A former F1 team manager has dubbed Lewis Hamilton a “spoiled little boy” and that he is no longer the same driver as when he won the title in 2008.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Spanish publication El Confidencial, Villadelprat, who worked for McLaren and Ferrari during his long F1 career as well as Benetton, Tyrrell and Prost, appeared distinctly unimpressed by the seven-time World Champion when asked about whether he feels Hamilton is struggling to match his new teammate George Russell.
Russell has out-qualified Hamilton on three successive occasions and had seized the lead of the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Hamilton in the early stages of the race in Melbourne until an engine issue took him out of contention.
Joan Villadelprat: Lewis Hamilton is like a spoiled little boy
Reflecting on the opening three races of the season, Villadelprat commented on his surprise at how well Russell is doing at Mercedes and while he said he feels Hamilton has lost none of his talent, his motivation may be in question.
“Hamilton is fed up and, if he doesn’t win, he’s like a spoiled little boy: you either win or you break the toys,” he commented.
“He’s a whiner, you know. The tyres, the strategy, he questions everything, and he has screwed up. When you have a [teammate] who is faster than you, it is normal to be quiet and put your head under your wing.
“I think he hasn’t lost but, after seven titles… What motivates you? Well, win another. And you’re not going to risk your skin if you don’t have that car. What is evident is that Hamilton is not the same as his first or second championship.”
Joan Villadelprat highlights Fernando Alonso’s unwavering enthusiasm
While Villadelprat questioned Hamilton’s motivation, he pointed to the undimmed enthusiasm of Fernando Alonso as evidence of what a driver can achieve into their forties, particularly after racing with uncompetitive machinery for years while in his prime.
“One has won seven, and the other two, and Fernando knows that he could have won more, that he has the potential to be ahead of Hamilton,” he said.
“Except that Fernando’s choices were not correct and Hamilton was right. But the desire that Fernando has… The best of all is that now people recognise him, Formula 1, and other drivers – they recognize him as a phenomenon.
“If Fernando hadn’t come back, his story would have been forgotten with a title or two.
“But being in Formula 1, at his age, when he has a good car, taking what he is taking, how he is physically, enormous, and mentally he is brutal. When Fernando beats a driver, he is happy that he is the one who wins.
“Now you don’t have a word against Fernando, he’s not a bully driver. [He] is winning Formula 1 by far. Not only because of the results but because he does not fail either.”