Villeneuve lambasts “fake, artificial” modern F1

2014 F1 season

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The 1997 Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve has criticised the direction the sport has taken in recent years, saying it has become too artificial.

“I really don’t get it, I really don’t get modern F1,” Villeneuve said in an interview for BBC Radio Five. “They’ve started going the artificial way to try to create a fake show: the tyre changes, different tyres, and then DRS where you press a button and you can overtake somebody else.”

“And once you start going down that route you can’t stop. You just have to make more and more and more of it. So now we have double points for the last race. What’s next?

“It becomes more and more artificial and instead of having a positive effect you end up making it where people don’t respect it any more.”

Villeneuve said few current drivers voiced criticisms of the sport because of commercial pressures. “You can imagine a driver that gets a lot of money from sponsors being told ‘OK, don’t say that please’ and fine, that you could understand.”

“But more than half the field are pay drivers which means they cannot lose their ride,” he added. “They should at least have a little bit of personality.”

“They don’t even have that: they’re not fast, they’re paid to race and then they’re hardly interesting on top of it.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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58 comments on “Villeneuve lambasts “fake, artificial” modern F1”

  1. Harsh, but true :/

  2. ‘They HAVE paid to race’?

    Also it’s pretty needless to say that he’s spot on.

  3. This must be the first time I wholeheartedly agree with Jacques Villeneuve.

    1. @andae23 same.

      This whole thing is very frustrating.

    2. Exactly. If only it would come from someone who actually matters; for example, I think it would really make an impact if someone like Prost, Mansell, Hakkinen or Murray Walker would say that same thing

      1. Think Nigel on twitter has spoken out against these new rules…I think this season will be either brilliant or(more likely) poor….there will be no inbetween…

      2. “someone who actually matters”? I don’t see how JV’s opinions, which seem to be almost universally agreed upon, are any less weighty than the other names you have mentioned. And none of them are going to change things anyway. But I do hope that things will change for the better if collectively a hurt is put on the bottom lines of the teams and F1. But I also think it would help if collectively we had a main theme as to what we all would consider our ‘perfect’ F1.

        A little incite into JV’s opinion going back to the late 90’s when he called F1 a joke for bringing in grooved tires and was called to Paris over it…paraphrasing…’give us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s for instant addition of mechanical grip, tires that create so much drag that one had no choice but to run less wing for any kind of acceptable straight-line speeds, meaning more emphasis on mechanical grip and less dirty air disturbance, for closer racing.’

        JV thinks it should be about gladiator vs. gladiator on the track. I could not agree more. Been a huge JV fan since Indy. It’s coming up to 20 years now since his incredible rookie year in CART. Rookie of the year in 94, Champion and Indy 500 winner in 95, 96 and 97 everyone knows about. What an incredible run that has him in an extremely unique club, namely Mansell, Andretti and Fittipaldi, with such a resume.

        I think there is definitely some good in the new F1…for me in no particular order it’s KR at Ferrari, reduced downforce, torque that they’ve never had before, better tires, and that fact that it is all a mystery right now. There are elements that take away from these things but those are well documented already like the succinct article here by JV.

        1. I think Mansell’s achievement is not only unique, I cannot see it ever being equalled let alone bettered. F1 WC and CART champion in the same year. Astonishing.

    3. But how is any of this the faulf of the drivers.
      A few drivers have spoken against it. Even Vettel, Bernie’s wonderkid was very critical, and what did Bernie say? He wants to increase the double points offer to the last 3 races.
      The drivers don’t have any say in these matters, however vehement is thier opposition.
      Villeneuve should just stick to criticising those responsible, comercial pressure plays no part in the drivers indifference.

    4. I bet you were one of the thouands that forced the introducción of drs, with your comments on sites like this one, just because you were bored because you were no given an overtaking manouver every couple of laps. Now you agree with him. That is called experience. A bad experience.
      F1 is in a bad state. And with two forces not acting as one, fía and cvc, i dont see an easy fix.
      Lack of power, weak sound, lack of personalities, fake overtaking, tilkedroms, high ticket prices
      pay tv. Thanks god at least i lived the 80 and early 90s when sex was safe and racing was still

  4. I also criticise F1’s new gimmicks and it’s modern technological, crazy rules (like DRS and the double points rule).And pay drivers I will always disagree with but F1 will sadly always have them.Is KERS or I should now say ERS a gimmick?
    I am not very sure about this but I think it probably is…

    1. Even if it was a gimmick in its previous form, then at least it was more fairly and sensibly implemented than DRS.

    2. Kers was a bit artificial, but ERS is something for the future of racing and road cars. As this new energy system works seamlessly with the engine, it is no longer that stupid “press a button for power” thing.

      Ir F1 didn’t impose this small gas tank, it would just be awesome!

    3. I wouldnt put KERS as a gimmick, because all the drivers got as much of it every lap. DRS, on the other hand, is just dumb, because one driver can activate it, and not the other.

    4. I agree, DRS is useless and fake and shouldn’t be allowed as you can only overtake on a straight? What fun is that?

      I agree to KERS that is technology at it’s best.

  5. Age has not been good to him.

  6. ““And once you start going down that route you can’t stop.” Kinda hard to disagree with him. I am sure Bernie is already working on another diabolical plan to ruin f1 even more.

  7. Villeneuve is a lot of things, but, in this case, he’s absolutely right.

  8. Wow. Jacques got old…

    1. He looks like Christian Slater in that pic. Or Tony Blair.

      1. He looks a little like Brian Eno too.
        I agree with his comments completely.

  9. I totally agree that DRS etc. are fake ways to make overtaking manoeuvres happen, and I think we all agree on the double points debacle.

    The one thing he says that I don’t agree with is :-

    “But more than half the field are pay drivers which means they cannot lose their ride,”

    I’m sure any F1 team that’s using pay drivers could have them lined up around the factory, and they will still have to have corporate sympathy.

    1. yep, if they are paying they have to play nice anyway! those b****es!!!

  10. Valid points at some junctures, until he goes and blasts the drivers for being slow and uninteresting – strong words from a driver that literally accomplished nothing when not at the wheel of an Adrian Newey car in F1, was given ample opportunity to lead BAR to the front of the field – which was squandered time and again over the course of every season barring 2000, easily the worst wet driver of any of the modern-era Champions, and I don’t recall JV being as much of a folkloric hero as his father at any point during or after his F1 career.

    1. Even his championship season wasn’t that great, and he had some very questionable results. If I recall correctly, he crashed out at the first corner of the first two or three races (although I think he got lucky in a couple of circumstances since races were stopped and they still had spare cars, I believe).

      In a car as strong as his was in 1997, he should’ve had a dominant season. I believe that if the 1997-era Schumacher were driving the 1997 Williams, he would’ve wrapped up that championship easily.

      Despite Gilles having no WDCs, he is still the superior driver to me (and I’m sure many others).

      1. If I recall correctly, he crashed out at the first corner of the first two or three races

        Him going off at the 1st corner at Melbourne in ’97 wasn’t his fault, Irvine locked up & ran into Herbert who was then pushed into Jacques JV.

        In a car as strong as his was in 1997, he should’ve had a dominant season.

        Wasn’t all his fault though.
        Gearbox problem while leading at Imola, Bad weather prediction from the team at Monaco, Poor pitstops & weather predictions at the French & Belgium Gp’s, Poor strategy at Monza.
        Only straght up mistakes which JV made that year was the crash at Montreal, Spinning out at Hockenheim & the yellow flag blunder at Suzuka.

        I think its easy to go on about how he only won races in 1996/97, Yet look at the cars he had beyond that. Williams struggled in 1998, The 99 BAR was a disaster, Yet he still managed some exceptional performances, Car was better in 2000 & he again pulled out some brilliant drives.
        2001/2002 were not helped by the turmoil in the team management but again he pulled out some very good performances (Austria 2002 comes to mind, He was stunning that race). In 2003 he & Button were very evenly matched.

        Even when you look at the final few races on 2004 when he was at Renault, He out qualified Alonso in Q1 at Shanghai (1st race back) & outright at Suzuka (A drivers circuit).
        When he figured out the 2005 Sauber he was at least as fast as Massa (Who went on to win races & contend for a championship) & in 2006 he was very evenly matched with Heidfeld who had just come off a brilliant year at Williams & was very highly rated.

        The problem with Jacques career was the move to BAR, But looking back it wasn’t as bad a decision as it proved to be. A massive budget, Car designed by Reynard who had success in every other category they entered, The promise of a factory engine & some very good staff in the engineering department.
        It failed because Craig Pollock horribly mis-managed it rather than because of anything JV did. When David Richards took over things started moving forward, When he was fired they went backwards again.

        1. In 2003 he & Button were very evenly matched.

          Were they? The results don’t show that, but I wasn’t watching back then so maybe Villeneuve suffered car trouble on the occasions when he was actually running ahead of Button. If not, then in terms of races they both finished Button was consistently better.

          1. Actually that was the year that pretty much made Button as I recall. His stock wasn’t particularly high after being beaten by Fisichella but he managed to get a drive with BAR where he spent the first few races surprisingly close to his champion teammate. By the end of the year he was beating him consistently

          2. If you compare in reality how JV did vs. Button you will find that JV ended up with half the points of JB, but with well more than half the unreliability, so when both cars were healthy JV actually outperformed JB. With a manager that was undermining him starting with the presentation of the car that year. At least when MS was being excused for underperforming vs. NR his unreliability was well pointed out.

          3. Sorry, better said JV had well more than DOUBLE (not half) the unreliability of JB yet still had half the points.

  11. mattshaw85 (@)
    13th February 2014, 21:14

    I think he’s spot on mostly.

    I read earlier that he also had this to say (from autosport):

    “With the engine regulations, everything is so restrictive that it’s not Formula 1 anymore, there’s nothing special about it,” he added.

    “Conserving fuel is fine, and it was great in the past. The problem is that the drivers don’t have to do it. It’s all done electronically.

    “You sit there and it saves fuel for you, and that defeats the purpose.”

    “”They are trying to cater to the wrong people,” he said. “They are trying to cater to the ‘greens’, but F1 is not green so there is no point even trying.”

    I disagree with that and although he had a point about it being down to the driver to conserve fuel rather than the software, I believe the ‘eco’ thing is worth pursuing, not least because it’s that kind of thing that will attract new manufacturers (i.e. honda), as well as the tech filtering down into road cars in some form.

    1. Actually this a fairly good point about how the car does the fuel saving as opposed to the driver.

      I was watching Allan McNish on Leo Parente’s show on Drive, where he was talking about the challenges of LMP1 racing in realtion to fuel saving. He said the biggest challenege was to save fuel without effecting lap time and that you have to alter your driving technique all the time. He went on to say that there was none better at it than Tom Kristensen, who manages to save fuel while keeping the laptime up.

      Im not doubting an F1 driver’s ability to emulate their LMP1 contemporaries, but the fact is that, its one more skill being taken away from the driver.

    2. @mattshaw85 I agree with your last paragraph. I also agree with JV that F1 is not going to attract ‘the greens’ but I just don’t really think that is what they are trying to do, or at least expecting to do in any kind of significant way.

  12. What is eco about a 1.6ltr car being followed about by up to 20 40 ton lorries with 300 plus staff all flying around the world to maintain it?

    1. Haha! Good point! I hadn’t even thought of that….

    2. Yeah but it makes F1 “look green”. Only if anyone cared except the manufacturers and their pr teams…

    3. It’s a 1.6l technology development platform, the technologies and knowledge from which will hopefully end up in thousands of cars.

      Flying to the moon wasn’t environmentally friendly either, but there are spinoffs of such programs which are often never predicted beforehand.

  13. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    13th February 2014, 21:30

    F1 and racing in general has always had artificial rules from time to time, such as the top 12 best results or whatever it was that gifted Senna the 88 title, to GP2s reverse grid system. F1 has a lot of gimmicks right now: double points and DRS being the top contenders but the machines and the quality of the drivers is probably at the best its been for a while.

    1. @stephanief1990 Senna’s 1988 championship being held up as an example of the problems with the dropped scores rule is a pet peeve of mine. Partly because I never hear the same being said about other examples of the same phenomenon, such as John Surtees’ 1964 championship victory, when Graham Hill scored more points over the course of the year but had to drop more. Surtees and Senna deserve full credit for those triumphs, and the latter was particularly special because he walked into a world champion’s team and beat him first time out.

      I say all this as someone who was not a fan of the dropped scores rule. But it’s not as if Senna or Prost were unaware of the points system when the championship began. It became apparent very early on that year the title would essentially boil down to the tally of wins between the two McLaren drivers. The Professor was the last person who was going to fail to understand that.

      But the ‘best 11 scores rule’ is nothing like as egregiously unfair as double points. It existed to reduce the effect of unreliability on a driver’s season at a time when it was a far greater factor than it is today.

      Why one race should arbitrarily be worth twice as much as another, or why one driver should be punished twice as severely for retiring from one race compared to another, cannot be given a satisfactory sporting explanation. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is not twice as long as other races, there aren’t twice as many competitors on the grid and they don’t go twice as fast. There is no sporting rationale for awarding twice as many points.

  14. Villeneuve for FIA President

    1. That will fix a lot of things. I wouldnt mind trying it to see how it goes.
      Todt to me is better than mosley, that created those weird tyres with groves, and drs, and considered himself the saviour of drivers lives, bit i considere him a crazy man, full of himself.
      But todt is just another politician, willing to do anything to come out alive for another term un office.

    2. I second that motion…

    3. Lewisham Milton
      15th February 2014, 19:35

      Sounds like a fair swap.

  15. I can’t stand Villeneuve…and I totally agree with him.

    1. i couldn’t agree more, doing away with the V8’s will go down as the biggest mistake the sport has made in recent times they should have just thrown a turbo on the v8’s and called it a day….

      1. Doing away with the v10s was even bigger. I actually never liked the v8s. Once you have savoured the high reving v10s everything else seemed too civilized. I dont mind the
        turbos, but please give them high revs and full boost. We need power now more than ever, with all this safety measures where you put expectators so far away from the action in the evil tilkedromes.
        I hope there will be a perfect world in the future, where all tilkedromes will be silent, without any racing in them, AMD places llke monza, spa, zandvoort, brands hatch,
        Jarama will be full of racing cars.

      2. I like that puuting a turbo on the v8 and get on with tour lives jajajaja love ir.
        The power plants are ok if they produced 1000 bhp. With that power the sound will be impresive, and the performnce mind blowing. The green bunch will be silent because de engines haave the energy recovery systems.
        But because the teams are broke, due to every one of them flying their privare jets, they cant afford an engine fix
        If there is a real racer in all of them, they should be ashamed of themselfs.

  16. Jacques, you are exactly like Luca Di Montezemolo. I would love to eat you alive from the comfort of my armchair, but I find myself agreeing with your every word.

  17. I dont think f1 cares about being green, f1 cares about money, there is no money in a race championship that does not have a large number of major manufacturers because the sponsors wont be interested. The manufacturers will only come if it benefits them (as having engines that a relevant to their road cars does). So actually I think the engine changes are positive, what I dont like is the conservative nature, i would’ve much preferred they said ok you get 100kg of fuel per race, you can have whatever engine size/ config you like and as much ers as you like because that way it would actually push the development of the technology rather than limiting innovation.

    1. Ya that’s fine, and I don’t entirely disagree, but just don’t forget that with ‘unlimited’ or even less limited innovation go increased costs and difficulty for newer teams to enter and grow quickly enough to warrant being there. Increased costs equals increased demands of sponsors equals fewer sponsors around, especially in this economy, who have the money to pony up, let alone see it as a valid investment given the current state of F1.

  18. This has to be the best quote of them all “They’re not fast, they’re paid to race and then they’re hardly interesting on top of it.” That just about sums up the last 4-5 years in F1, it is getting boring with Seb’s dominance and crap drivers that think they can drive, but really all they are is a hindrance to drivers with ACTUAL talent.

  19. I for one, cannot comprehend why everybody hates Jaques. It seems some consider him to be an unworthy champion?
    Anyways, it seems he speaks heart-in-hand and I like that! I find it funny how people that say he usually just speaks rubbish, find themselves agreeing with him on this.

    1. I think that he is a chip off the old block, and that if Gilles were still around he would be saying the same sort of things.
      I only wish that we could have seen JV and Gilles battling it out in some NASCAR tanks after their respective f1 retirements :)

  20. An interesting thing JV said in this interview (which was not picked up by most newspapers) is his quote about the double points rule for the last race (Abu Dhabi this year)

    “I do not know what purpose it may serve, except to help the organizers of Abu Dhabi, who spend millions to have a stroke, trying to keep the interest up their own race.”

    Maybe that’s why Abu Dhabi is the last race this year and not Brazil.
    Maybe that’s why Bernie suggested several double points GP (say, randomly: Bahrain, Singapore and Sochi) and against only the last 3 GP (which would mean Sao Paulo and Austin).

    1. “…to have a race” sorry.

  21. But at least DRS was original, so was KERS (until Mazda stole the idea) but again he’s spot on, it’s almost like the board for the FIA is going a bit homosexual, when you think about it, racing is about guts, determination, loud engines putting out a lot of noise and power, not engines that sound like a Renault Clio, and 8 gears? Next thing you know, there will be like 20 gears with half the power. It’s just a bit BS how everyone pays to see the ‘real’ racing, and all they get is all this ‘eco’ and ‘let’s go green’ speech and it is being reflected through the rules.

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