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Villeneuve: F1 is losing its way

NEWS STORY
13/02/2014

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has hit out at F1 claiming that it is artificial and losing its way.

The outspoken French-Canadian came to F1 in 1996 after what seemed like years of waiting. Son of the legendary Ferrari (and McLaren) driver Gilles Villeneuve, one of the most inspiring and mercurial talents to grace the sport, Jacques first made his mark in Indy Car, winning the title in 1995 at the second attempt. That same year he tested with Williams, subsequently signing a two-year deal with the on-form Grove outfit.

Taking the 1996 title fight down to the wire with teammate Damon Hill, Villeneuve won the championship at the second attempt in 1997, victory coming in the wake of an infamous incident involving Michael Schumacher at the season finale in Jerez.

Following a third season with Williams in 1998, Villeneuve made the switch to the brand new British American Racing outfit set up by his friend and manager Craig Pollock. Following five disappointing seasons with the team that was to morph into Honda, Brawn and then Mercedes, Villeneuve enjoyed further stints with Renault and Sauber before being dropped by the Swiss outfit halfway through the 2006 season.

Over the years that followed he indulged his passion for speed in a variety of series including NASCAR, Speedcar and Sports Cars, including two appearances at Le Mans where in 2008 he finished second, thereby almost emulating the unique feat achieved by Graham Hill in winning the Formula One World Championship, Le Mans and the Indy 500, the so-called Triple Crown.

Today, having announced his move to the inaugural FIA World Rallycross Championship, Villeneuve, never one to shy away from voicing his opinion, admitted his disappointment at the direction in which Formula One is heading.

"I don't get modern Formula One," he told BBC Radio 5 Live Sport. "They started going the artificial way to create a fake show. Imposing DRS where you press a button to overtake someone else - once you start going down that route you cannot stop, you have to make more and more of it.

"So now we have double points for the last race," he continued. "What's the next thing that will come? It becomes more and more artificial and instead of having a positive effect, you end up making it where people don't respect it any more."

The man who once described teammate Jenson Button as a "boy band" then turned his attention to the current crop of drivers.

"It's a habit now to not have a personality any more in Formula One," he said. "You can imagine a driver that gets a lot of sponsor money being told 'don't say that please' and he will toe the line.

"So they are not fast, paid to race and highly uninteresting on top of it. It is tough for F1 right now."

Chris Balfe

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ffracer, 15/02/2014 17:51

"Amen everyone.

Also, I totally agree with "Ro": everyone has to go to a vintage F1 round at least once! It is so romantic and intoxicating seeing those old 'friends', the beautiful cars, on the track again... It will bring the purist to tears. I truly believe that F1 lost its way back in 1989 when they allowed the paddle shift Ferrari and ultimately all the electronic "cheatware" that came with it... Now, the "2014 F1 World Championship: year of the Phallus" is simply ridiculous. I don't know what is worse: DRS, the year end double points, the "Drama" tyres, the pitiful clamp on engines and gearboxes allowed or these dreadful noses?!?! Kudos to Force India, the colour choices for the nose, front wing and 'mandingo' are priceless!"

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2. Posted by GrahamG, 14/02/2014 22:02

"First time I've ever agreed with the Canadian clown, if even he can see its nonsense. ......."

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3. Posted by GoodPublicity, 14/02/2014 13:06

" F1 lost its way decades ago, Jacques. It began to stray when wings and slicks were allowed in the late-1960s, and has stumbled deeper and deeper into the woods ever since."

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4. Posted by fredfrog, 14/02/2014 9:59

""It becomes more and more artificial" ... took the words right out of my mouth! And he's spot on about the "character-less" (ness) of the modern driver. They all toe the line by being dictated to by sponsors and team rules ... even have to retract Twitter comments that someone may find offensive. It's like they've all had their balls removed for safekeeping by the team/sponsor, lest they come over all feisty. Boring!

FIA/Ecclestone ... bring back real racing cars with real tyres, driven by real men with character who say and do outrageous things a-la Hunt, Prost, Senna et al. Inject some life into this sport!

What legacy is modern F1 leaving? In years to come none of the drivers will be remembered because they did and said nothing extraordinary. If Villeneuve doesn't "get modern F1" then how many of us old farts do?"

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5. Posted by Ro, 14/02/2014 9:16

"I totally agree with JV. Has anyone gone to a Historic F1 race ? Try it and you will see why it was so much better. The older you get the more you are set in your ways and dont like changes, but to watch a race where the drivers count is far better than the artificial current F1. "

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