Jacques Villeneuve believes that Lewis Hamilton is doing some soul-searching over the course of the winter break, evaluating whether or not to continue in Formula 1.
Hamilton has maintained a strict radio silence ever since the chequered flag pre-podium interview at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where he suffered a shocking last-lap defeat to Red Bull's Max Verstappen after a controversial call from FIA Race Director Michael Masi to bring in the Safety Car with a lap remaining.
Villeneuve reckons Hamilton is weighing up the likelihood of being able to win an elusive and record-breaking eighth World Championship, and will make his decision on whether or not to continue based on that.
"It depends on the car that Mercedes will give Hamilton, whether he can win easily with it or not," Villeneuve told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport.
"Lewis is also a bit more tired, he has had [some] easy seasons after Nico Rosberg's departure and he really won't want to have another year like he experienced last season.
"He thought he could easily bring in the record eighth title and that didn't happen.
"It's like a diamond that you have in your hands and then suddenly it's taken out of your hands. In this way it hurt much more than if Verstappen would have simply led the whole race."
"Hamilton is distancing himself from Wolff"
Villeneuve also believes that Hamilton may be making an effort to put some clear distance between himself and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
With Wolff's reactions to events during races, such as slamming his table or throwing headphones, becoming Internet memes during 2021, Villeneuve suggested that this penchant for dramatic actions or radio messages might not be to Hamilton's taste.
"I also interpret Hamilton's silence as him wanting to put some distance between himself and Wolff," Villeneuve explained.
"After all, you can lose with style, whereas Toto behaved like someone who is playing Monopoly. The moment he is losing, [he] throws the whole board into the air."
With Wolff's radio message of, "No Michael no, that was so not right", going viral after Abu Dhabi, Villeneuve feels that Hamilton wants no association to it.
"In doing so, Wolff suffered a lot of image damage, in my opinion," he said.
"Hamilton is sensitive to that because he is thinking about his future in America, maybe even in Hollywood."
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