Ok everyone, debate over – the oracle, Jacques Villeneuve, has spoken. The 1997 champ is well known for his strong opinions and of course he has one about the clash between Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in Baku.
Unsurprisingly he thinks pretty much the exact opposite of what many people feel, saying that because it happened at such a low speed it doesn’t matter. He also supported Vettel’s explanation that the contact was an accidental consequence of him angrily waving at Lewis.
Villeneuve himself was on the receiving end of deliberate contact back in 1997 when Michael Schumacher tried to take him out of the race in order to win the championship. But speaking to Motorsport.com Villeneuve said that the two incidents were completely different. He also believes Hamilton brake-tested Vettel despite the FIA data saying otherwise. He said:
“It was very different. They’re going 10mph, who cares? Of course it was ugly, but ultimately Lewis brake-tested him. I’m a driver, I’ve been there. Whenever a driver did that to me, then I would do whatever Seb did. He got a penalty, the biggest he could get, I guess, according to the new rules. I don’t think he was trying to hit him. He had one hand on the wheel and was looking at him and pointing the finger. You don’t hit with your wheels turned like that, you will break your own car, and with one hand – if you’re going to hit someone, you have two hands on the wheel!”
Jacques also said that he liked that the drivers were showing emotions, but called Hamilton’s pleas for help over team radio embarrassing.
“That’s fine, that’s OK, that’s cool. And in a way I am happy to see that drivers have emotions. It’s good, it’s fun. We have the two guys fighting for the championship, getting angry with each other, and ultimately no damage was done. What’s the big issue? It’s great TV, it’s good to see that they’re on it. Much nicer than Lewis asking Bottas to slow Vettel down. I mean, that was embarrassing.”
Villeneuve also said he was happy to see that stewards were taking a more lenient stance when it came to on-track incidents, such as that between Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap.
“At the end of the day Bottas didn’t get a penalty for running into Kimi. But at the same time the rules should allow racing and mistakes. I’m happy there was no penalty, but then others shouldn’t get them either. It was racing, and one just made a mistake and one ran into the other. What Bottas did, that was just poor driving, but it’s racing. What Vettel did was not nice, not sportsmanlike, but good to see.”
“But I would like to see more penalties for weaving, which we hardly ever see – that’s the big issue. In Montreal I think Vandoorne did it at one point, and at least Sainz got a penalty. We see some extreme weaving and that should be penalised.”
Some seriously mixed messages going on in those quotes from Villeneuve. He doesn’t think Vettel hit Hamilton on purpose but said that he thinks it’s unsportsmanlike, and also that he’d do the same thing? And also crashing into people is fine, but weaving isn’t? You know what, perhaps it’s best to not analyse his opinions and just enjoy the fact that an ex-driver is happy to say exactly what he feels, because it’s a rare thing.
What do you think? Does Villeneuve have a point or is he just being contrary for the sake of it? Let us know in the comments!