Jacques Villeneuve reckons Lewis Hamilton underestimated the threat from Sebastian Vettel at the start of the year
Mr. Villeneuve has been rather quiet in terms of his opinions lately. Perhaps he’s cultivating a particularly large and preposterous opinion ready for the end of the season?
In the meantime, to remind us all that he still exists, the 1997 champ has come out and said that he thinks Hamilton didn’t realise Vettel was going to be a rival this year, even though Lewis has frequently said this year that he’s been loving the fight with Vettel. JV said:
“Lewis is really, really good. He’s only ever been in the best team with the best car, or close to it, like every great champion, which is fine. If he can be the whole season like he’s been since the summer break, great, but he hasn’t done a full season like that. He wasn’t there.”
“I think he fell asleep with Bottas, and when he realised that Bottas wasn’t the one he had to fight, it was actually Vettel, that’s when he woke up.
“He spent years with Nico, and it was always tough with Nico. Then when Bottas arrived he was laughing - ‘Phew, finally I’ll have an easy championship.’ After a while he realised, ‘Crap, Ferrari is there and Vettel is there.’ And Vettel is not one to give up.”
Jacques would certainly know a thing or two about ‘sleeping’ as an F1 driver. He ‘dozed off’ sometime during the 2002 season and never really woke up.
Despite that slightly strange analysis of Hamilton’s year, he does think that 2017 has in general been a good year, thanks mainly to the fact two different teams were in the mix - something he was always a fan of.
“It’s always better [fighting someone from another team], because you don’t need to be political internally, you don’t need to share your resources with your teammate, and to be open about your set-up with someone that you’re actually fighting for the championship. It’s a lot more exciting when it’s someone from another team.
“It’s always good when Ferrari is in the mix, and it’s always good when it’s a battle. On that aspect it’s been a good year to have faster cars, and it’s been a good year because we’ve been used to terrible years! So right now we’re saying, ‘Wow this was an amazing year.’”
I’m not going to argue with that!
Hamilton has the potential to give Michael Schumacher’s records a run for their money, but Villeneuve suspects that Hamilton doesn’t really care about them.
“What is his real goal? If he really loves the sport, he’ll stay to beat the records. He has the means and the talent. But on the other hand, if he’s just using F1 to build his image, as many believe, he’ll just leave the paddock and head straight to Hollywood.
“When you’re a world champion, you don’t easily leave F1 behind. One suffers rather than one chooses. You find yourself a bit like a rejected lover who tries to console himself. That’s when you need to have the right support around you.”
Is he hinting at how he felt when he left F1? Perhaps he should write an album to express himself or something…