Villeneuve speaks his mind

Villeneuve speaks his mind

Never one for toeing the party line, Jacques Villeneuve is continuing his straight-talking approach with opinions on new team mate Jenson Button and BAR boss David Richards. The atmosphere between Villeneuve and BAR has been a little fraught over...

Never one for toeing the party line, Jacques Villeneuve is continuing his straight-talking approach with opinions on new team mate Jenson Button and BAR boss David Richards. The atmosphere between Villeneuve and BAR has been a little fraught over the past year and the Canadian shows no sign of tempering his forthright ways.

Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by Jeff Pappone.
On the subject of Button, of whom Villeneuve has been reserved in his assessment, the former champion is insulted that he is being compared on a level with the young Englishman: "I'm not starting the season thinking 'I have to beat Jenson'" he told Canadian newspaper La Presse. "I don't care about Jenson!"

"It wasn't the case with some of my other teammates: Damon (Hill) had already won races, Frentzen was considered an extremely quick driver when he came along, same for Olivier Panis. Jenson hasn't done anything yet. I don't see him as the new guy to beat; if I don't beat him, I'd better stay home because that would mean that I don't belong in F1."

"I'm willing to admit that Jenson can compete, but as of now, he hasn't shown anything. Everyone talks about him like he's the next world champion. They say it'll be tough for me, that I need to step up my game, that it'll be a dog fight. I find this insulting, people are putting us on equal footing! I don't see why I should go down to his level."

As for Richards, Villeneuve and his boss have been at loggerheads since Richards suggested last season that the team could do better to spend more money on development and less on Villeneuve's salary.

"David Richards came in the middle of the BAR project and had a complete disregard for what had been done before. Instead of respecting the contract that I had signed, he provoked uncomfortable situations," Villeneuve remarked. "If Michael Schumacher had come to BAR, he would have destroyed the team within six months. He would not have put up with people tarnishing his image."

The Canadian was also less than optimistic about Honda, saying the engine currently lacks punch and only lasts half a race, but he is unrepentant about his outspoken ways. As for the future, Jacques makes no bones about where he wants to go: "With a better team than BAR, because I don't want to go any lower."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Olivier Panis , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards