It's Villeneuve's birthday: From great talent to the biggest critic in Formula 1

09-04-2020 12:36 | Updated: 09-04-2020 14:31
by Editorial Team
F1 News
It's Villeneuve's birthday: From great talent to the biggest critic in Formula 1

Jacques Villeneuve is a man who is not afraid to give his opinion. That doesn't make him always loved. However, but it does make him a unique personality and that can be celebrated today, because Villeneuve turned 49 today.

Father Gilles

Villeneuve grows up in a family dedicated to racing. Father Gilles Villeneuve drove for McLaren for one year and after that for Ferrari with six victories. Jacques' uncle is also a racer, which emphasizes the race blood that is running through the Villeneuve family. However, the racing heart was hit hard when father Gilles died in 1982.

The then only 32-year-old Canadian crashed during qualifying at the Belgian circuit of Zolder. Jacques was only thirteen years old, but decided to reach the top himself. Two years after his father's accident he dares to ask his mother for a kart. She agrees, although he has to improve his grades at school, especially in mathematics.

He succeeds. Villeneuve makes an impression in karting and soon finds his way to the Formula cars. In 1992 he came second in the Japanese Formula 3 championship, but his real breakthrough came in America. Villeneuve decides not to follow the path of Formula 1, but that of the IndyCar.

The IndyCar success

It turns out to be a success. Villeneuve becomes Rookie of the Year in 1994 with a sixth place in the championship and even one victory to his name. In 1995 the Canadian does even better, with immediately the title, four victories and no less than six poles to his name. Then suddenly the step to Formula 1 beckons.

Villeneuve consciously chooses for America in '94, but when Williams knocked on the door, Villeneuve was convinced in. In 1996 he joins the team of Frank Williams next to Damon Hill and that turns out to be a success. Williams' car is supreme, but nobody thought it possible that the rookie could keep up with Hill.

Villeneuve to Formula 1 anyway

However, Villeneuve is on pole three times and manages to win a race four times. The championship remains exciting until the last race. When Villeneuve beats Hill in qualifying, everyone has hope for the young Canadian, but in the race his wheel falls off the car and it's Hill who takes the title anyway.

Hill had to leave despite his title and Villeneuve gets off with Heinz-Harald Frentzen as Williams' teammate. With ten poles and seven victories Villeneuve puts the 1997 championship to his hand, but Michael Schumacher fights tooth and nail for his title with Ferrari. Even so hard that after the debacle at the last race in Jerez, he will be removed from the standings and will not go down in the books as vice champion.

After his title it goes downhill with Jacques' career. The Canadian can be admired in the sport until 2006 with BAR Honda, Renault and Sauber, but will never be on the highest step again. In recent years Villeneuve has mainly been field padding, but he can leave the sport with his head held up high at the end of 2006.

Villeneuve on Verstappen

In 2008 Jacques finishes on the stage of the Le Mans 24 Hours, winning once during the Le Mans Series. Villeneuve continues to race in several classes to this day, but is known for his unsullied opinion. Villeneuve finds all sorts of things and is not too modest to express them.

For example, Villeneuve is known in the Netherlands for his opinion about the debut at a young age of Max Verstappen. However, the fact that the Dutchman was able to hold his own and impressed, later ensured that Villeneuve would withdraw these words. Something the Canadian rarely does anyway.

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