Villeneuve slams ‘FIA-protected’ Verstappen

Former world champion and TV pundit Jacques Villeneuve has lashed out at Max Verstappen, criticizing the Red Bull driver for his on-track antics and suggesting he is granted voluntary leniency by the FIA.

Following another series of controversial moves  during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, many took aim at the young teenager’s behavior, like Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who found himself once again on the receiving end of Verstappen’s defensive driving.

Canal+ TV consultant Jacques Villeneuve was particularly critical of Verstappen’s driving during the race’s broadcast, admitting to be baffled by the complete lack of punishment directed towards the 18-year-old.

“The issue is the FIA, because it looks like he’s got protection, they want him to be a start,” Villeneuve later told

“Look in Germany. He weaved on the straight, so Nico [Rosberg] missed his braking [point]. They go a bit wide – Nico gets a penalty. For something even less than… and it wasn’t even his fault.

“So there is something that is wrong. I don’t know. It’s something that makes me angry, but that’s just the way it is. Twenty years ago someone would have put him in a tree.”

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Villeneuve, a strong personality in his own right and often critical Formula 1’s current crop of drivers, made it clear that he has been unimpressed with Verstappen’s approach.

“It’s way too much. The start is racing. It’s too much, but it’s racing. Because every expert driver knows that if you go to the inside there will be an incident, because there is not enough room.

“Mostly if you had a bad start, just accept it. But that is not what’s bad. It’s after that, he complains about other drivers: ‘They destroyed my race’.

“Relax, relax. You know you took a big risk and it did not pay off. You destroyed their race and you destroyed your own race. That’s fine. That’s life.

“But what he did afterwards that’s not acceptable. What he did to Kimi twice on the straight, and to Vettel as well. Just calm down. You’re going to kill someone.”

Villeneuve believes that Verstappen needs to develop respect for his peers in order to avoid a potentially disastrous outcome if he continues with a style which relies on zero compromise.

you need to have just a little bit of respect. Because you all live in this little thing together.

“Drivers should have respect among each other. Good, hard, fair racing, like Kimi said. You know, racing hard is great. But have some respect.

“You can’t just push people off. Or make them have to brake on the straight. That’s super, super, super dangerous. Twenty years ago drivers fixed it among themselves.”

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