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Memo to Jacques Villeneuve

NEWS STORY
15/01/2017

Despite his pedigree and his obvious talent, in recent years Jacques Villeneuve has become something of a rent-a-quote.

Should certain sections of the media want a world champion eager to criticise a driver, team or rule change, Jacques is your go-to man.

At a time F1 is haemorrhaging TV viewers and fans in the stands, unhappy with a sport that has lost its direction, the 1997 world champion claims that the sport went wrong when it listened to the fans.

“Where F1 went wrong was when it started listening to the fans," he told - wait for it - an audience of fans in Birmingham, "because the fans complained there was not enough overtaking.

“By listening to that, what did F1 do?" he continued, "it put in DRS. Because that way we’ll have a hundred overtakes in a race. But name me one overtake you remember since DRS. You don’t, because you don’t see the driver work. In a motorbike race, sometimes it takes a rider ten laps to overtake another rider, but in these ten laps you see the work that goes with it. When the overtake happens, wow. All these ten laps you’re on the edge of your seat.

“Now you aren’t," he said of F1, "next straight line, press a button, overtake. That’s it.

“You want to see a great competition," he continued. "You want boxers to really hurt each other, and see who the strongest one is. You don’t want them to have big gloves so they don’t hurt themselves. That’s a bit what DRS is like, let’s not take a risk, let’s press a button. It’s like overtaking on a highway. You don’t actually see proper racing because of that. You get tons of overtaking, but it’s boring. So it defeats the purpose."

Yes Jacques, the fans did want overtaking, they still do, but it wasn't the fans who asked for DRS.

Indeed, for as long as anyone can remember fans have called for one thing, less aero grip and more mechanical grip. But since when did the sport listen to their opinion?

DRS is another in a long line of gimmicks dreamed up by the sport's powers that be in an attempt to give fans whet they insist the fans will come to enjoy, not what the fans actually want.

Fans - and let's not forget Jacques, they are the customers - don't want gimmicks such as DRS and are all too aware how artificial it is.

Sadly, as the powers that be insist on turning what was a sport into entertainment we are likely to see more such nonsense which will ultimately only do more damage to the sport and lose more fans.

While the sport's prospective new owners talk of all the changes they are seeking to make, such as having the teams buy in to the sport, making races a week- long event like the Super Bowl, exploiting gambling and increasing the number of races, we have yet to hear any serious suggestions as to how the core product - the racing - might be improved.

So don't blame the fans Jacques, they're the poor suckers who have had to watch helplessly as their sport has been bled dry and turned into a high-octane soap opera, it is the powers-that-be that stand accused of destroying the sport, those who have no idea of passion or history only self-interest.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by ryanhellyer, 19/01/2017 22:30

"@Chris Balfe Oops! Thanks for noticing my typo :) I did indeed mean a significant decrease in aerodynamic grip."

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2. Posted by Uffen, 19/01/2017 15:40

"Listening to fans is dangerous in some ways because they often want contradictory things. That said, fans did not ask for DRS or any other "you will pass here by doing this" trick. F1 has allowed itself to become committee run and they chose a committee populated by self-interested parties.
The changes planned for 2017 do not bode well for racing, either. "

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3. Posted by Mauri, 17/01/2017 10:12

"I agree with Jacques blaming the DRS, and i also think that those new 2017 rules are going in the wrong direction.
More mechanical grip should permit entering long straights more close to the car in front, allowing overtaking.
But the effect of increasing tire size could be partially or totally neutralized by increasing front wing size and its efficiency.
IMHO the equation should be: more car weight (reducing cornering speed, allowing to be closer to the opponent, and increasing braking distance), less efficient braking systems (increasing braking distance), decreasing of the loss of grip caused by aero turbolence when cars are very close.
What i see, instead, are cars faster three or four seconds per lap. shorter braking distance, faster cornering speed, lots of laps records and boring races
Hope i'm wrong.

Mauri"

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4. Posted by Editor, 16/01/2017 13:35

"@ Ryanheller

I think you meant a significant drop in aero grip... it's mechanical grip that we want."

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5. Posted by Stitch431, 16/01/2017 13:27

"..built .. bit too hasty ;-)"

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6. Posted by Stitch431, 16/01/2017 13:27

"Ps. The one thing I do agree with is to get rid of the artificial super Mario DRS a.s.a.p and make a rule as to cars being bilt in a way overtaking is poissbile without that areo drag in the rear. It is possible!"

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7. Posted by ryanhellyer, 16/01/2017 13:25

"This article is totally on point IMHO. The fans definitely did ask for more overtaking, but definitely did not ask for DRS.

<rant>The only rule change on the car (ignoring tires) that I can think of which I felt improved the racing in the past 20 years will be the addition of these larger fatter tires coming in 2017. But I would have much preferred even larger and fatter tires, along with a significant drop in mechanical grip. I feel the new regulations are a step backwards for the sport, again :/</rant>
"

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8. Posted by Stitch431, 16/01/2017 13:22

"On top of being a rent a quote he is a heavy critic of Max Verstappen, the only guy who managed to give us those overtaking manoevres that we remember. Many of them without the use of DRS. He must be jealous at the the sight of them. In contrast of this "video game youth" he keeps praising Lance Stroll into heaven, even before he put one wheel on track in F1. I've got news for you ol' Jacko, Lancy boy is also a video kid... and still has a lot to prove. I wonder if he makes mistakes on track if you will be impartially enough to critisize him too... Guess not, too good a friend of Daddy('s money?)"

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9. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 16/01/2017 10:17

"Jacques comments keep him in the media to a point, the sport will only take any serious notice of the fans, when there are no fans!! "

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10. Posted by REV, 16/01/2017 10:14

"Very glad to see this article. Have been thinking for some time that he should shut up. Who cares about his opinions? Not me in any case!"

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11. Posted by RS from Calgary, 16/01/2017 1:37

"As a Canadian, I've become very tired of Jacques' comments. The descriptor of Jacques as a rent-a-quote is so true, and IMHO, his opinions lack professionalism and are only geared to getting his name in media outlets.
I was proud when JV won the WDC, but then he lowered himself to lower classes of racing (Indy, Nascar), but still tried to come across as a total racing expert (which sadly, he is not). He needs to listen to 'Oncle Jacques' (with whom I've had fun and favourable business dealings) to ground himself in reality. "

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12. Posted by Fill, 15/01/2017 21:13

"I could take or leave DRS... I think it does add a touch more excitement and makes things a little more interesting, so I'd hedge for keeping it.

That's not the main problem of F1, though. The problem is over rewarding the winning teams and double-punishing the struggling ones. I think the purse money should be more widely distributed between the teams and grid spot penalties for having to, say, replace a blown engine or gear box be abolished.

I don't want to take anything away from Roseberg or Hamilton, but for such a dysfunctional team with a Strategist who's made multiple critical errors, the drivers routinely disobeying team orders, even sabotaging each other on the track, crashing into each other, etc.... it is rather telling that the equipment and money behind the team can still clinch them a 1,2 win for the season.

I don't want to see F1 turn into GP2 where all the equipment is standardized, but I'd like to see more of a driver's race and not one of the equipment. You might as well have self-driving cars go round and around with fairly consistent results of each race, but that would, of course, not be interesting to watch. But that seems to be where the sport has headed."

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13. Posted by Editor, 15/01/2017 19:05

"@ F One

Of course he's right... that's not the point!

The point is that he blames the fans for DRS, though we've yet to come across any fans that like DRS.

Yes the fans want more overtaking, but it was the powers that be that dreamed up DRS instead of looking at more practical solutions."

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14. Posted by F One, 15/01/2017 18:44

"He's right though. DRS is abhorrent."

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15. Posted by Burton, 15/01/2017 15:06

"Yeah, it's the solution that the powers that be came up with that is wrong, not the diagnosis or the fans. He really expressed himself poorly there.

That said, his opinion on DRS is correct but surprisingly tame coming from him. I was hoping for something more explicit :P"

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