Lewis Hamilton dismissed as F1 icon issues brutal five-word reply in French GP debate

Serial Grand Prix winner Gerhard Berger has laughed off claims that Lewis Hamilton and George Russell could clinch a Mercedes one-two at the French Grand Prix this weekend. There is genuine optimism surrounding what the Silver Arrows can achieve at Circuit Paul Ricard, but the former Ferrari star has urged fans not to get carried away. 

Mercedes have shown a steady improvement over the past few weeks, with Hamilton in contention for the win at Silverstone and achieving another podium in Austria. A series of smooth circuits have brought the best out of their W13, and more improvement would put them in direct competition with Ferrari and Red Bull. 

The Drivers’ Championship has broadly been contested by Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez thus far, with Carlos Sainz succumbing to mechanical issues and misfortune. While it may be too late for Mercedes to close the gap and mount a challenge for the top prizes, finishing the season strongly seems a genuine possibility. 

But Berger, who won 10 Grand Prix during a distinguished F1 career, urged caution on that front and brutally asked whether former world champion Damon Hill ‘had been drinking’ when he proposed a Hamilton and Russell one-two. 

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“It could be really difficult because now, with the new regulations, Mercedes have first to catch up with the others,” he added. “Not thinking about having an advantage, as they had very often in the last years. So now it could be a long way [away].

“But in Formula 1, saying ‘I need to win the championship’, it doesn’t work. I think this is something where, for him, it is probably a difficult situation. Then having the car as he has now, you can see [that] when the car starts to work a bit better, he can go to the podium and he finds his performance again.”

“What’s going on with you guys, are you drinking or what?” he queried on the F1 Nation podcast, adding: “The Mercedes hasn’t worked really well anywhere this year. It could be maybe a bit better, but I don’t think it will go so much in this direction that they suddenly will play a role to win the race.

“Paul Ricard has always been a little bit different. It’s very smooth. It’s a very different style of circuit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mercedes works a bit better there, it’s very flat. But in general, it will be again a fight between Red Bull and Ferrari.”

“It could be really difficult because now, with the new regulations, Mercedes have first to catch up with the others,” he added. “Not thinking about having an advantage, as they had very often in the last years. So now it could be a long way [away].

“But in Formula 1, saying ‘I need to win the championship’, it doesn’t work. I think this is something where, for him, it is probably a difficult situation. Then having the car as he has now, you can see [that] when the car starts to work a bit better, he can go to the podium and he finds his performance again.”

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