Villeneuve critical of teenager rookies changing F1 image

Jacques Villeneuve
© XPB 

Nineteen ninety-seven world champion Jacques Villeneuve believes the current trend of teenage Formula 1 drivers is detrimental to the sport's image.

Following Max Vertappen's meteoric rise to the big time - albeit a very successful one - at just 17 last year, and Lance Stroll kick starting his career with Williams at 18, the wave of young drivers is wrongly passing off the message that reaching the pinnacle of motorsport may not be all that difficult.

"Basically their luggage is not full yet," Villeneuve commented to

"Normally you would get to F1 with luggage that was half full, and you just have to do the other half.

"Now they come in and the luggage still has the new tag from the shop, and it hasn't been opened yet! That's wrong. It doesn't matter how talented you are, this is F1, it's the pinnacle.

"So there is something missing. You can have a lot of talent, you can be super fast, but it's also the wrong image to give. It has to be hard to achieve to get there, but it's not."

Stroll in particular may have a difficult time in 2017, jumping straight from F3 to F1 while learning the ropes of Grand Prix racing at the wheel of cars which many believe shall be much more physical to drive thanks to the new technical regulations.

Villeneuve is willing to give his young countryman the benefit of the doubt however.

"He's super quick, but we don't know what he's made of mentally or psychologically, because F1 is a different beast.

"And for the first time in his career he cannot be in the best car and the best team, where everything is in place for him to win, and where the going will be tough.

"We don't know how he will react to that. He's well-educated, well-spoken, so he could just grow and become amazing – or he could just collapse. We don't know."

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