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Villeneuve: F1 stars don't hate each other enough anymore

Former Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has claimed that one of the principal problems with the top flight now is that the drivers no longer 'want to win so badly that they hate each other' as they used to in his day – lamenting the fact that there is only one real 'warrior' left on the grid.

Having already made his name in CART – subsequently Champ Car and now IndyCar – circles, Villeneuve lifted the laurels at the end of only his second campaign at the highest level with Williams-Renault back in 1997, famously getting the better of arch-nemesis Michael Schumacher, who deliberately tried and failed to take him out in the final grand prix of the year at Jerez in southern Spain.

From then onwards, however, the French-Canadian would never again stand atop the rostrum, as he endured a series of increasingly fruitless seasons with BAR-Honda and latterly BMW-Sauber, before parting company with the Bavarian outfit midway through a disappointing 2006 and returning across the Pond.

Having had to duel tooth-and-nail with Schumacher for the crown, however – with the pair at the time making little secret of their mutual antipathy for each other away from the race track – Villeneuve suggested the 2008 title showdown between McLaren-Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari ace Felipe Massa was tame and characterless in comparison. Despite being close to 40 now, he has similarly made little secret of his desire to return to the grand prix paddock should the opportunity arise in F1's new 'low-cost', budget-capped era.

“The problem with Formula 1 is that there are no more warriors,” he bemoaned in an interview with German publication Sport Bild. “Alonso is one, but who else is there? These days no-one says anything unless a PR person has told them they are allowed to. There are no more fights.

“I realised it last year, when Massa was fighting Hamilton for the title – you didn't get the impression that these guys want to win so badly that they hate each other. It was different with myself and Michael Schumacher or Eddie Irvine.”

There are, though, some drivers whose talent on-track and manner away from it Villeneuve clearly does appreciate, and aside from Alonso he was full of praise for Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel and ex team-mate Jenson Button, with whom he endured a somewhat frosty relationship at BAR-Honda in 2003, as the Briton outperformed him in what he contends is still to a certain extent 'his' team.

“I don't know him (Vettel) personally,” the 38-year-old mused, “but I like what I see because he is different, he gives refreshing answers in interviews, he is fast and he seems to be very strong in the head. I think you always have to be yourself in everything you do, but I am not sure this is the case with all the drivers of today.

“I remember in 1992 when I was driving F3 in Japan, I got an offer to go to IndyCars but they said I had to change my helmet design to the colours of the sponsor. I said 'forget it, I'll stay here'. The people around me shook their heads, but I didn't care. Two years later I went to IndyCars anyway, with my own helmet!

“[Button] hasn't made any mistakes; Lewis Hamilton was making mistakes even when he won the championship. I think Jenson is stronger than Lewis mentally, in dealing with pressure.

“I'm happy for him (Button), but I also see the team as a negative part of my past. I feel as though a lot of my own money is still there; in 1999, my former manager Craig Pollock set up that team (as BAR) with some of my money as well. From BAR it was then Honda, and now it's Brawn.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
22.06.2006 Montreal, Canada,  Jacques Villeneuve (CDN), BMW Sauber F1 Team - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Thursday
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The race stopped, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, The race stopped
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, The Safety car and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
25.06.2017 - Race, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
25.06.2017 - Race, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 and the Safety car
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and Marcus Ericsson (SUE) Sauber C36
25.06.2017 - Race, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 and 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, 3rd place Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
25.06.2017 - Race, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13 race winner

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Racy - Unregistered

June 04, 2009 6:55 PM

Clap man you are the moron. Villy is not American and you may play with sheep all you wish. Some say Button's car can be driven by anyone as well. Clap you are a drag-perhaps Nascar is more to your taste.

AK - Unregistered

June 04, 2009 7:26 PM

I have the clap .. ur a moron the biggest one iv seen out here.. and if u were ever a given a car that would ever drive itself .. u would still crash it.. leave alone win a championship. this guy won a championship.. and most of the drivers that ever won championships won in an extraordinary car. wen schumi used to win.. ppl blamed it on technology making driving easy etc etc. and now for villeneuve they say the car was fab..wtf stop making excuses. inorder to get the best car u need to be a good driver. Give nakajimas and nelson piquet a champ winning car and they will still crash! disclaimer: i am no fan of jacques and have no vested intrerest wen i make the above statement

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