Villeneuve hits back at “insults” over Leclerc’s use of his father’s helmet design

2023 Canadian Grand Prix

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Jacques Villeneuve has responded to criticism and insults he received over Charles Leclerc’s use of his late father’s helmet design at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Leclerc wore a red and black helmet styled after the one used by six-time grand prix winner Gilles Villeneuve during practice on Friday. However he replaced the helmet with his usual design for final practice on Saturday.

Ahead of qualifying Leclerc posed for photographs with Joann and Melanie Villeneuve, Gilles’ wife and daughter, and the helmet he had used on Friday. He resumed wearing the design again in qualifying.

The family had objected to Leclerc using the design without first seeking their approval, said Jacques Villeneuve in a post on social media.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Leclerc temporarily resumed using his regular design
“To clarify the situation regarding the recent incident where some individuals felt the need to insult me and my family over Charles Leclerc using my dad’s helmet, I want to provide some context,” the 1997 Formula 1 world champion said.

“As I was arriving at the track, my sister called me in a state of anger. She had seen Charles using our dad’s helmet without any prior knowledge or communication about it. The entire family was taken by surprise, as we had not been informed beforehand.

“I immediately conveyed the message to Charles, who was kind enough to give me a call. We had a heartfelt conversation where he sincerely apologised for the situation. I reassured him that I considered it a touching tribute and that I personally had no issues with it.

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“However, I stressed the importance of him reaching out to my sister, as she is the one responsible for managing everything related to our dad. I also suggested that he invite both my sister and mother to the track to address my remaining concerns.

Leclerc is now using the helmet with the family’s blessing
“Fortunately, everything eventually worked out, but it would have been preferable for these discussions and arrangements to take place before the weekend in a respectful and professional manner.

“Unfortunately, the incident was blown out of proportion, turning it into an unnecessary controversy.”

After qualifying Leclerc then took a picture with the Villeneuve family while holding his tribute helmet, and revealed “everything is fine now, it’s all good”.

“It was definitely a nice moment because I wanted to do this tribute in good faith,” Leclerc added. “It was because he’s just a legend of Formula 1 and Scuderia Ferrari. So it was good to meet them.”

Leclerc will start in 10th for today’s race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which was renamed in honour of the driver following his death in a crash in 1982.

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Ed Hardy
In 2019, Ed started working on Formula 1 writing articles during race weekends. Alongside that, he also built up experience in football working on...

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14 comments on “Villeneuve hits back at “insults” over Leclerc’s use of his father’s helmet design”

  1. Is it me but I find the thinking that wearing a tribute design should not make anyone upset but rather proud. Except Leclerc was actually wearing his actual helmet not just using tribute colours, I wonder if hassling him this much was dignified

    1. Honestly sounds like it was a money issue. They probably were afraid he’d sell it as merch or otherwise make money from the design that they, I assume, still own the copyright to.

      1. The design for that helmet was never trademarked and there is no copyright either in the copyrights database. But generally the copyright for original art is held by the creator.

  2. I failed to see what Leclerc did wrong at all. Asking permission to pay tribute to a legend…. Sorry, but it’s ridiculous. If anything, the family should appreciate that the new generation still cares when usually the only name extensively repeated on and on around the paddock is Senna this, Senna that, as if Ayrton himself would descend from the skies opening the heavenly gates of jackpot for their craving. In the end, it’s not like Charles is selling bootleg models or something.

    1. I don’t think it’s ridiculous. They are putting a (probably) trademarked design alongside Bitdefender, Ferrari, Santander… there’s a legal issue there, and the family wants to protect themselves from that. You never know what’s behind that.

      Asking permission is the normal thing to do. Inviting them over or whatever.

      1. @fer-no65 – I’d agree wholeheartedly if only both designs were exactly the same.

      2. The design for that helmet has never been trademarked according to a search of the Canada trademarks database. Jacques’ was, but was canceled in 2015.

  3. I should apologise, I said earlier Jacques oddly gets bothered by stuff other people don’t. But it sounds like Jacques doesn’t have much to do with it, and I guess Charles made it good by his sister in the end.

    If it’s ‘the shock’ of seeing a family thing without knowing prior, I guess it’s not our family and we don’t know how it feels.

    If it was a money thing, then I think we all know nobody was profiteering from this. If that helmet ends up in an auction, Charles won’t be pocketing the cash. It’ll go to something positive. I don’t know if she thought Ferrari & Charles were ‘cashing in’. But I’m sure they weren’t.

  4. Electroball76
    18th June 2023, 18:42

    One should never unveil another man’s helmet without first seeking appropriate consent.

    1. I think this is something we can all agree on.

    2. From who? Dead people can’t give consent.

      1. Clearly jacques’ sister from what the article said.

  5. “Villeneuve hits back…”
    Why the sensationalistic tone?? How about “Villeneuve offers clarification…”?

    1. Because he did hit back? He was pretty angry about it.

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