Lewis Hamilton "is not used to" extracting the final tenth in performance after years of having "an easy car to drive", reckons Jacques Villeneuve.
Hamilton's last Grand Prix win came at the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but did end his pole drought from the same race by claiming first on the grid in Hungary earlier this season by 0.003s from Max Verstappen.
At times throughout this campaign, Hamilton has had a promising Friday before failing to carry that momentum into qualifying, leaving him out of position on the grid - with a good Friday in Las Vegas leading to a P11 start for the race.
1997 champion Villeneuve believes that after years of domination at the head of the field, Hamilton is simply not used to having to find the fractions of a second he now must Mercedes is in the midfield.
"It is a very peaky car with a very small window of operation, and it is pretty hard to set-up," Villeneuve explained of Mercedes' W14.
"George [Russell] seems to be better at that than Lewis who spent so many years with an easy car to drive.
"He had more horsepower than the rest of the grid and even if they didn't have the right set-up or right strategy, they'd still win.
"When you have to go back to find that last-tenth, you're not used to it anymore, and you need to get the ball rolling."