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Villeneuve: Russell's 'career is made' if he beats Hamilton

George Russell has finished ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton at seven out of the nine races so far in 2022, and Jacques Villeneuve believes that winning the inter-team battle will be Russell's main priority.

Jacques Villeneuve thinks that George Russell's career will be "made" if he can continue to beat Lewis Hamilton. The young Briton has finished ahead of his new teammate at seven out of the nine races so far in the 2022 season, and currently sits fourth in the World Championship standings with 111 points, in comparison to Hamilton in sixth with 77 points. Villeneuve has been impressed by how Russell has performed since making the step up to Mercedes following three years at Williams, and he believes that winning the inter-team battle will be the 24-year-old's priority. "He has the experience now, and he's had a few years of driving a bad car, a difficult car," Villeneuve told the F1 Nation podcast. "He was okay with the difficult Mercedes that was bouncing. All that mattered to him was beating Lewis. He knew from the start it wasn't a championship-winning car. "If he beats Lewis, his career is made. That's all that he cares about. "And also, [with] both of them being British, [if] he beats Lewis, that's it, his career is made. So that was his only emphasis, what he needed to do to beat Lewis, and that's what he's been doing."

Villeneuve baffled by Russell's qualifying gamble

Hamilton qualified ahead of Russell at the Canadian Grand Prix, with Russell finding himself starting from P8 in comparison to Hamilton's fourth after taking a gamble on slick tyres in the mixed conditions of Q3. This risk didn't pay off, and Villeneuve was surprised by the Briton's decision to try it. "There was nothing brave about it," Villeneuve argued. "Because, on paper, there's no way it was going to work. It was freezing cold, it was still humid. It was hard for the drivers to even get their front [tyres] working on Intermediates. "How could you get the temperature into your slick tyres? Now, when you're in a Williams, like he did in Russia [in 2021, where he qualified third], where you're either last or you make a good call and you're in front – fantastic. "But when your car can be P4 [or] P5, that was really not a good call to make. It cost him qualifying in front of his teammate, and it cost him the podium."

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