Villeneuve to commentate for Italian TV

Jacques Villeneuve will be back at the grands prix in 2013.

Reporting from a launch event at Monza, the Italian press said the 1997 world champion has signed up with Sky Italia to commentate during live broadcasts at all races this season.

Joining him will be Ferrari test driver Marc Gene, who switches over from Antena 3’s Spanish coverage.

French Canadian Villeneuve, 41, is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: “Watching the races on TV, sometimes I would get angry about what others are saying.

“Now maybe someone will get angry at me,” laughed the outspoken former Williams, Honda and BMW driver.

11-time grand prix winner Villeneuve’s late father, Gilles, is among the most revered Ferrari drivers of all time.


Villeneuve no fan of DRS

Jacques Villeneuve has admitted he is no fan of ‘DRS’, the moveable rear wing innovation that for the past two seasons has made passing much easier in F1.

The critics of the ‘drag reduction system’, however, say it only creates artificial racing, and indeed often deprives the sport of many genuine head-to-heads.

“Every time I see DRS I get angry,” 1997 world champion Villeneuve told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “It destroys every good battle.

“What also annoys me is the rule about only changing your line once. That’s the worst one of all,” said the 41-year-old former Williams, BAR and BMW driver. “The rule should be that blocking is not allowed — that’s it,” added Villeneuve.

He is therefore critical of the ‘new generation’ of F1 drivers, saving particular rebuke for Romain Grosjean, who Villeneuve alleges is “totally of control”.

“Or what Maldonado did to Hamilton in Valencia,” he added.

Villeneuve blames some of that culture on the high standards of today’s circuits.

“Today, where the run-off used to be grass, now it’s paved. But that (the grass) often made you withdraw automatically. Now many are pushing without thinking. The young drivers coming into Formula One today are not ready. Playing video games all day, they’ve forgotten that motor sport is dangerous.”


Villeneuve: Mercedes should have used Hamilton-Schumacher pairing

Jacques Villeneuve says he does not think Mercedes has made the right choice in pairing Lewis Hamilton with Nico Rosberg next year.

The 1997 world champion does not, however, question the German marque’s decision to poach Hamilton from McLaren. Instead, Villeneuve wonders about his former title nemesis Michael Schumacher’s exit.

“Why is he stopping?” the 41-year-old told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “I don’t understand. Hamilton-Schumacher would be much better than what they do have for next year,” the outspoken Villeneuve insisted.

But German Rosberg insists he is “very happy” with how he has compared against the great Schumacher since 2010, even though the pairing have been more closely matched this season.

“It’s true that Michael has had bad luck, but so have I,” Rosberg told Germany’s Auto Bild. And in their qualifying head-to-head in 2012, Schumacher and Rosberg have been very evenly matched.

“As far as qualifying is concerned, there is nothing special to say about it,” Rosberg insisted. “For three years I have had the upper hand, which is more than I had expected at the beginning. I am very happy with it,” he added.


Piquet Jr wins first Nascar race

Former F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr has broken through to win his first race in the world of Nascar.

The now 26-year-old Brazilian switched to the American realm’s secondary Truck and Nationwide classes after leaving formula one in the wake of the ‘crashgate’ scandal. Although not in the premier Sprint Cup category, Piquet has contested Nascar races since 2010 but only broke through for his first win on Saturday from pole position in the Nationwide event at Road America.

“I think the best thing that could come out of this was to show team owners and bosses that I’m capable of doing it, if I just get the right car and the right team,” said Piquet, whose father is the F1 triple world champion.

Also in the race was 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who collided with Danica Patrick whilst battling for fourth position on the last lap.


Villeneuve thinks Lotus might drop Raikkonen

Kimi Raikkonen’s seat at Lotus might not be secure, according to 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Villeneuve, whilst attending last weekend’s Canadian grand prix at the Montreal circuit named after his legendary father, described Lotus’ black and gold E20 car as “amazing”. The French Canadian suggested that with a top driver at the wheel, the Enstone based team might even be leading the world championship.

But what about Raikkonen? As the 2007 world champion who this season has made a widely-hailed F1 comeback, isn’t the laconic Finn a truly ‘top driver’? Not according to Villeneuve.

Indeed, whilst the 32-year-old has been on the podium twice so far in 2012 and is equal fifth in the drivers’ standings, Raikkonen has been regularly outqualified by his newcomer teammate Romain Grosjean this season.

“That he is usually behind Grosjean in pure performance makes me think he (Raikkonen) could be dropped,” Villeneuve is quoted in the latest edition of France’s Auto Hebdo.

Finnish commentator Mika Salo acknowledged Raikkonen’s recent struggles, particularly the poor performances in Monaco and Canada. At the same time, Frenchman Grosjean almost won in Montreal last Sunday.

“But this was just one good event for him,” former Sauber and Toyota driver Salo told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.

Nonetheless, there are rumblings in the F1 paddock that not all is well in the relationship between Raikkonen and Lotus. A big sticking point is the saga about the E20’s steering system.

“Now, it’s like with a child,” an unnamed team member is quoted by the German-language Speed Week. “We’ve laid down six lollipops and he can choose one. There won’t be a seventh version of the steering for him,” he insisted.

Salo acknowledged: “Kimi has retained his natural ability to drive a car, but he and the team definitely haven’t come to terms about what he needs. But as for Jacques Villeneuve, I doubt he has even spoken a single word to Kimi about what the problem really is. He is a complete outsider,” Salo insisted.

“We can all have opinions, but the truth is very different to what Villeneuve said. “I still think Kimi will win a race this season when the weekend is spot on.

“You can see that the relationship between Kimi and the team is really good. Although there are problems, there is still a good atmosphere. Some in the media allege that they are breaking up, but the real situation is quite the opposite. The team has full respect for Kimi, and Kimi respects the team,” Salo insisted.


Police arrest protesters at Ecclestone event

Protesters attempted to disrupt an event attended by Bernie Ecclestone on Thursday. The F1 chief executive – as well as other F1 dignitaries including 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve – was at a cocktail gala for this weekend’s Formula One race in Montreal when riot police moved in on a group of masked protesters.

About 20 were arrested, the Canadian Press reported. Asked what message he had for protesting university students, former Williams and Sauber driver Villeneuve answered: “Go back to school. It’s time for people to wake up and stop loafing about. It’s lasted long enough,” he blasted.

“They spoke, we heard, and now it’s time to go back to school.”

Ecclestone said he hoped the protesters would not attempt to disrupt the actual track action this weekend.

“It would be terrible if somebody got killed like that, you know, running across the track,” said the 81-year-old.

Usually the most vocal driver on political matters is the plain-speaking Australian Mark Webber.

“I’m not completely up to speed with what’s going on,” the Monaco winner said on Thursday.

“I’m not saying it’s a minority, but sometimes when there’s a little bit of tension then some other people can lose out.

“I’m sure the weekend will go well,” Webber added.

Villeneuve no fan of today’s ‘daddy’s boys’ drivers

Jacques Villeneuve has prefaced this weekend’s Canadian grand prix by admitting he is no big fan of today’s Formula One.

The 1997 world champion will be attending this weekend’s race, held in Montreal at the circuit named in honour of his late father. Race organisers intend to mark the 30th anniversary of legendary Gilles Villeneuve’s death.

“There’s something planned, but I would like to keep it a surprise,” promoter Francois Dumontier told the Montreal Gazette.

Villeneuve, 41, recently marked the anniversary by driving one of his father’s old Ferraris at the Italian marque’s Fiorano test track. He will be at his home race this weekend as a guest pundit for British television Sky. But he has kicked off his involvement by slamming the 2012 spectacle, including the Pirelli tyre lottery and “daddy’s boy” drivers.

Comparing today’s crop with his father’s era, Villeneuve said: “They weren’t racers at 12 years old, the financing there in place for them to race.

“They had to sweat for it, they weren’t little daddy’s boys like you have now basically. They are driving F1 and they are still children, they are still babies and they are kept like that,” said the former Williams, BAR, Renault and BMW driver.

The winner of 11 grands prix also admitted he is not particularly enjoying the big impact of Pirelli’s heavily-degrading and difficult to understand control tyre.

“I am not a huge, huge fan right now,” said the French Canadian.

“There is very little the drivers can do, the tyres just suddenly disappear and that doesn’t seem to be to the level that F1 should be at.”

Villeneuve said he does not agree it is a good thing that ‘underdogs’ like Pastor Maldonado are considered perennial contenders for race wins.

“It is always fun to see an underdog beat the establishment but it is something that happens once in a while. Now it seems to be almost a constant,” he said.

“It is not logical, the best should win,” Villeneuve insisted.

He also slammed F1’s new generation for not taking the risks of formula one seriously enough.

“When you see Bruno Senna in Barcelona, he is not in the same race, he is going appallingly slow and he is blocking guys who are fighting for the points,” he said, referring to the Brazilian’s crash with Michael Schumacher.

“That is just not intelligent driving for starters. But secondly, when you do a little twitch down the straight, that is just wrong.”