Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

Jacques Villeneuve offers a no-holds-barred perspective on Max Verstappen’s unrivalled form, the multifaceted nature of Formula 1, and the challenges inherent in the sport, as he speaks candidly in an exclusive interview with

Short Summary:

  • Jacques Villeneuve defends Max Verstappen’s dominance in Formula 1.
  • He critiques the modern entanglement of personal lives and professional sport.
  • Villeneuve discusses the complexity of the Formula 1 management and team dynamics.

Formula 1 has always been a sport that ignites passions and sparks heated debates. Recently, Jacques Villeneuve, Canada’s only F1 champion, took the spotlight, sharing his candid thoughts on several pressing topics in an exclusive interview with Reflecting on Max Verstappen’s recent dominance, Villeneuve drew parallels with the achievements of Lewis Hamilton. He was quick to point out the contrasting reactions between the two eras.

“Everyone has admired Lewis for so many years and how he was winning. The same as Max if not more regularly. He was lapping the whole field at times in his Mercedes,” remarked Villeneuve. “No one complained about that. So why are we complaining about Max being so dominant?”

Villeneuve, now 52, attributes this discrepancy to Verstappen’s more rugged and stoic exterior, which he feels invites more criticism compared to Hamilton’s persona.

“He is not trying to be nice, he is not trying to be friendly, he is just being him,” Villeneuve said of Verstappen.

The Canadian former champ didn’t mince his words when discussing the current culture within Formula 1, which he suggests has grown even more superficial due to the influence of media, especially the Netflix series ‘Drive to Survive.’

“F1 is the most high-profile sport in the world right now. It is a theatre. You are almost not allowed to have a private life. Unless your private life is part of everyone’s, he will keep being bashed,” Villeneuve stated.

He further commended Verstappen for maintaining his focus amid the glitz and distractions, highlighting the Dutchman’s dedication to racing.

Villeneuve’s insights didn’t stop at Verstappen. He also delved into the chaotic climate surrounding Red Bull Racing, touching upon internal dynamics and the external pressures faced by team principal Christian Horner and consultant Helmut Marko. He expressed empathy towards Horner, especially concerning the personal impact of ongoing controversies.

“The thing that is really awful in this vendetta is those who get damaged by the fallout. That is Horner’s children when they go to school. That hasn’t been taken into account by anyone,” he lamented.

On the relationship between Verstappen and Marko, Villeneuve described it as deeply personal and potent, reminiscent of his own bond with former manager Craig Pollock.

The interview also touched on speculative matters, such as the possibility of Verstappen moving to Mercedes. Villeneuve was sceptical, noting that such a move would likely be driven more by a desire to unsettle Red Bull rather than any genuine interest from Mercedes.

“I can’t see him at Mercedes because they lost the championship to Red Bull and Max. It would definitely not be because he really wanted Max. It would be more to do with wanting to get at Red Bull,” Villeneuve observed.

Villeneuve continued by scrutinising the potential role and influence of Horner within the team, comparing it to Verstappen’s value:

“Would the team win without Verstappen? Probably. Max is winning because he has an amazing car and Red Bull is winning because they have an amazing driver. But he is not the only amazing driver that exists. Put Alonso in that car and he would be winning as well.”

Reflecting on the season’s start, he commented on how the other teams lag behind Red Bull and Verstappen. Villeneuve candidly remarked on the tight race grids and the importance of driver adaptability to various tracks, particularly pointing out Melbourne as a track that favours driving skills over sheer excitement.

Villeneuve’s nostalgia for Melbourne was evident as he recalled his own successes there, highlighting the track’s unique demands and rhythm. He also discussed potential threats to Verstappen’s dominance, expressing doubts about Ferrari and disappointment in Mercedes’ current performance.

“It is very disappointing. Listening to them before the start of the season, it sounded like they were back in the hunt, the car was apparently amazing. Then you see the first two races, and that is not the case.” Villeneuve commented.

The Canadian did not hold back his thoughts on emerging drivers either, noting the promising yet often fluctuant performance young drivers exhibit once the initial adrenaline of their debut settles.

As the conversation meandered to the topic of Andretti Global’s rejected bid to join F1, Villeneuve underscored the complexity behind such decisions, stressing the need for clarity and full information before forming judgements.

“As a fan, you would want them in. But all we can say is that they [FOM] had information we didn’t have on how the team was going to be built. We don’t know. We only know what we see in the media, and what we see in the media today is very dangerous because anyone with an account online can be a journalist.”

Despite the rejection, he recognised Andretti’s relentless pursuit and their commitment, showcased by their new facilities in Silverstone. Reflecting on the broader implications, Villeneuve cautioned against hasty judgements formed without a complete picture.

Such philosophical musings from a man who has lived through the highest echelons of the sport offer a window into the ethos that still drives him—a genuine passion for racing and an unyielding belief in authenticity. Whether discussing past glories or current controversies, Jacques Villeneuve remains a compelling voice in the ever-dramatic world of Formula 1.

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