Jacques Villeneuve’s bold and savage quotes: Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton targeted

Oliver Harden
Jacques Villeneuve stares into the distance at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 World Champion, looks on at the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.

Jacques Villeneuve is just as famous for his bold and uncompromising opinions as he is for his status as the F1 World Champion of 1997. 

The Canadian’s honesty has won him lots of friends and even more enemies, with his great rival Michael Schumacher – as well as drivers he never raced against, including Lewis Hamilton – among his targets over the years as the former Williams and BAR-Honda driver has transitioned into one of the sport’s leading pundits.

Nobody who sits behind the wheel of an F1 car – as well as those in charge of the teams – is safe. Here’s our selection of Villeneuve’s best quotes…

Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton among Jacques Villeneuve’s targets

“Now, you have two French guys in a French team in an international sport. I don’t see the point.”

On Alpine’s all-French lineup of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher in February 2023

“He confuses Formula 1 with Hollywood. Everything he does is staged. He portrays himself on social media like he is Jesus. The way he knelt next to his car after his problem in qualifying looked like the suffering of Christ. And what he said afterwards was the Sermon on the Mount. Then he gestured so dramatically on the podium that everyone could see who sent the sudden rain.”

On Hamilton’s ‘God complex’ on full show following his victory in the wet at Hockenheim (Sky Italia, 2018)

“No, I’m not carrying on my father’s legacy. A lot of people would like to hear that, but I’m not going to say it just to make everyone happy.”

Distancing himself from his father and beloved Ferrari legend Gilles

“I’ll put you in a f*cking tree.”

JV’s riposte to Juan Pablo Montoya after the Colombian warned he’d put him “in the f*cking wall” for brake testing, Canada 2001

“It annoys me when people describe my style as grungey because that to me means dirty. And I’m definitely not dirty.”

Whatever you do, don’t call him dirty

“You don’t fight rumours. You try to use them to your advantage, that’s all.”

On playing the media game

“Michael enjoys the image of being the best-paid driver in Formula 1. I enjoy being the risk-taker.”

On the difference between himself and Schumacher

“Ocon is an embarrassment. That was ridiculous… it shows he has no racecraft, zero racecraft whatsoever. All the incidents in the last two years where maybe it’s his fault, maybe it’s not, you can kind of think that maybe he was in the wrong, because he hasn’t read the race properly. And he never learns, because it’s never his fault, ever.”

Reaction to Ocon’s collision with race leader Max Verstappen in Brazil (Motorsport.com, 2018)

“I thought he was very restrained in his reaction. He didn’t even punch him! What do we want to see? We want to emotion, we want to see these gladiators. It was good to see that. And the other one is taller than him anyway!”

On Verstappen’s response to the Ocon clash (Motorsport.com, 2018)

“It’s fantastic. So I want to say: ‘Thank you, Williams – and thank you, Patrick Head – for bringing BMW to me.”

Reaction to BMW’s switch from Williams to Sauber for 2006

“Most drivers don’t have an opinion. They’re where they’re told to be.”

On marching to a different beat to his competitors

“If you look at my Williams years, we [Jacques and race engineer Jock Clear] made the team go forward – in spite of Patrick, basically.”

Clearly not a fan of Patrick Head, then

“I just want to be fighting people the whole time.”

On his abrasive personality

“Nobody hates me… yet.”

After his first test with Sauber in November 2003

“Ultimately, he has been a highly-paid driver who has cost the team a lot of money. He doesn’t bring in any points and he doesn’t have the speed the team needs to develop the car. So he’s just costing them money. It would be cheaper for them to continue paying Ricciardo’s salary, let him sit on the couch at home, and put another driver in the car. It’s a harsh reality, but that’s Formula 1.”

On the writing being on the wall for Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“Why should he be? He’s done two awful years at Renault, two even worse years at McLaren, that’s four years and how long has he been in F1 in total? Almost half his F1 career has been bad and that’s when he’s had experience, so there’s no reason, especially for a team he has already driven for.”

When asked if Ricciardo should be on Alpine’s 2023 shortlist (F1 TV, 2022)

“Michael is very competitive, very aggressive. But it’s not fair to say that everyone apart from Michael is a w*nker.”

Just because Schumacher is dominating it doesn’t mean the rest of the drivers are useless, in other words…

“If I don’t know someone well, why should I treat him like my best friend? It’s fake.”

We’re going to take a wild guess and say this was about a certain M. Schumacher

“If you don’t care, if you’re just playing, you don’t need that mental strength. So I think Felipe will be alright.”

On Sauber team-mate Felipe Massa’s graduation to Ferrari alongside Schumacher for 2006

“If criticism becomes personal – when I read that I’m a tugger – well, that’s just insulting. That’s not a word a professional journalist would use. That’s not proper criticism.”

On the media crossing a line

“Maybe the Mercedes team should just watch television instead of all their computers.”

On Merc’s confusing tyre strategy in Mexico (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“The Honda guys went on bended knee to beg me to stay – then, within a year, they started hating me.”

Maintaining healthy working relationships was never JV’s strong point…

“For me, F1 was never a dream. I grew up in it. It was my playground. When I was five I knew I’d be World Champion one day. And that’s what happened, naturally.”

Success was always inevitable in his eyes

“Listen, when I started racing there were a few people who told me, ‘You shouldn’t even bother trying, mate. A driver with glasses will never win a grand prix, let alone a Championship’ – and those people were wrong.”

There you have it: sub-optimal eyesight is no barrier to success in F1

“He is still not at the level of Sainz, and in addition, he does nothing but stupid things and never learns from them… clearly he does not deserve his place this year. He’s there purely for political and media reasons.”

On Red Bull/Toro Rosso retaining Daniil Kvyat purely because of his nationality (f1nal-lap, 2017)

“He stays in a straight line – he’s the same driver he was three or four years ago.”

And he’s no fan of Sainz either (f1nal-lap, 2017)

“I found that very, very, very weak. A little bit unacceptable.”

On Jenson Button’s criticism of him at Australia 2003

“Richards was on a mission to destroy everything I’ve ever achieved.”

You get the impression former BAR team principal David Richards is another name in JV’s little black book…

“I was over the moon when he got fired. Sadly I didn’t have anything to do with it, but it still felt good. Vengeance is always sweet.”

More on Richards

“You can brake too late, make a mistake, fine, but down the straight you don’t weave and squish, you just don’t do that. It’s ridiculous. A piece of carbon went outside of the track. You can hurt someone from the public. This has to be stopped. That kind of move from Perez is not racing, it’s pure blocking. You don’t do that. It’s aggressive. It’s dirty.”

On Sergio Perez’s clash with Force India team-mate Ocon at Spa (Autosport, 2017)

“Alesi just drove into me. I’m not saying he did it on purpose, it can happen. But the second time he was actually looking to see where I was. All I know is that it screwed up my day.”

He’s definitely, definitely not saying Jean Alesi did it on purpose at Imola 1996

“I should have ignored the fact that it was my team-mate and shoved him into the wall and continued on my way.”

On an incident with Massa at Monaco 2005

“I do think that Perez’s father should keep out of it. In these times of social media, parents have a big voice that is heard everywhere. But that should not happen, they should not be involved. That is why you see that Jos Verstappen is less and less visible, he is being kept out more and more and that is good.”

On Perez’s father weighing in on the Red Bull team orders controversy in Brazil (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“This is supposed to be the top of racing, and some kid with 23 races just comes in and gets a superlicence. That’s ridiculous. We all worked our butts off to get here. I find it unacceptable.”

On Kimi Raikkonen’s graduation to F1 in double-quick time in 2001

“Everyone was looking at Jenson with rose-tinted spectacles and I just wanted to open people’s eyes to the facts.”

Jealous?

“Albon is the worst second driver ever at Red Bull… he is certainly not of the level that a Red Bull driver should have. He’s getting worse, even though they keep trying to help him.”

On Alex Albon’s struggles as Verstappen’s team-mate (Sky Italia, 2020)

“Just look at Rubens. His image has always remained good, even though he’s always been a long way behind Michael. Why? Because Jean [Todt] always says he does a good job.”

On Barrichello’s reputation remaining unharmed alongside Schumacher at Ferrari

“There’s no point spitting on a journalist. You learn which ones are going to kill you once in a while for no reason.”

On identifying the bad apples in the press pack

“I thought the Italian Grand Prix was a really terrible race. I think it is especially sad for the tens of thousands of people who bought very expensive tickets. They saw no show, no finish line: in fact nothing at all.”

Safe to say JV was unimpressed by the finish behind the Safety Car at Monza (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“It made me realise that last year was not so bad. Mistakes were made, but there was always the intention to race again as soon as possible. Yesterday it seemed as if this was not important, unbelievable to see. This was not right, a finish like this has to be avoided.”

More on Monza. Maybe Abu Dhabi 2021 wasn’t so bad after all… (Formule1.nl) 

“Michael Masi should not be removed. He worked under pressure with the two team principals, in particular Toto Wolff, who kept shouting in his ears for the last five races. He did everything right, or almost right, after that Safety Car. The only downside was he could have had everyone split a lap earlier, but it was right to restart the race.”

On that note… leaping to the defend of F1’s race director in the aftermatch of Abu Dhabi (La Gazzetta dello Sport, 2022)

PlanetF1.com recommends

Jeremy Clarkson’s most outrageous F1 quotes: Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen be warned

Train like an F1 driver: an eye-opening experience into the insane fitness levels

“I don’t give a toss if Michael tries to muscle it out eyeball-to-eyeball with me. He knows it won’t work.”

Mind games are no way to get the better of JV

“If someone offers you that much, what do you say? ‘No, please give me less?'”

On his $19million-per-season BAR salary

“I think it’s terrible… it is not good for the sport if anyone with a disability can participate. At least not in Formula 1, perhaps in other classes. Formula 1 must be tough, must be difficult and almost unreachable. Robert’s return is not the right message.”

On Robert Kubica’s F1 comeback with Williams (Formule1.nl, 2019) 

“Who would another team want to sign a contract with Jenson now, because obviously contracts mean very little to him?”

After Button paid millions in compensation to get out of a deal to return to Williams

“We saw last year that when he’s in crisis he loses a lot, falls behind in the races and falls asleep, is not aggressive. We’ll have to see when and if he wakes up.”

On Hamilton’s patchy start to his 2017 title defence (Sky Italia, 2018)

“I think it’s very difficult to get a clear answer from Ron [Dennis]. I think he likes playing games.”

JV was no fan of former McLaren boss’s brand of Ronspeak

“I’ll respect Jenson once he goes quickly out on the racetrack.”

Uttered long before Button was crowned World Champion in 2009

“Perez was strong in the beginning of the season, then I found him invisible.”

On the Red Bull driver fading after a promising start to the season. Rinse and repeat? (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“You have to admit when you are not good enough. That’s all. So I don’t know why people are getting so upset. You can’t go out and say ‘he’s amazing’ when he’s a second off the pace of Massa.”

On Lance Stroll’s tough start to life in F1 (Motorsport.com, 2017)

“He did well, but also he’s the only driver who tests between races. That’s a little bit tough to swallow. Money has to have a limit, and that’s pushing it. [Baku] was the first race where he was not hanging on for dear life behind the steering wheel. He was actually relaxed behind the steering wheel, he was driving normal.”

More Stroll criticism (Motorsport.com, 2017)

“When I talk about dangerous driving I’m talking about Lance Stroll. He should be suspended for one race for the Fernando Alonso incident. The FIA ​​have been very lax in both Formula 1 and lower classes with drivers swinging out on the straight when that’s the most dangerous thing there is and the last thing you want to see. It’s pathetic and extremely dangerous. By swinging out on the straight, you endanger other drivers – possibly fatally, because you can cause a huge accident like that. And that’s because you consciously decide to do something like that, not because you’re making a mistake. So it’s really unacceptable.”

JV went in hard on his fellow Canadian after Fernando Alonso was launched into the air in Austin (Formule1.nl, 2022)

“I think the team and some of our sponsors didn’t appreciate my frank speaking in a few interviews I gave. But then they shouldn’t capitalise on my image and hate me for it afterwards, should they?”

In fairness, he does have a point…

“Some drivers will be fast but will be very, very weak mentally – so you don’t respect them either.”

Who exactly could he be referring to?

“I can’t imagine any plausible explanation. Sometimes in life you just have to bite the bullet and admit that you’ve been an idiot.”

On Schumacher blocking the track in Monaco 2006 qualifying

“If you try to make people believe that you actually didn’t do it on purpose, then you just look like a t**t.”

More on Rascasse-gate, Monaco 2006

“Some people spend their life as would-have-beens, could-have-beens and they end up never achieving anything – and that’s what Jenson has done.”

Another comment made to look rather silly by Button’s later success

“[Williams is] no longer a racing team. It’s a public entity that must report at the end of the year, and all they have to do is make a profit, which they have done. So they are fine. But if the company made $16 million in 2018, it is because not enough was spent on the racing team. The president does not want to win in F1, he just wants to make sure he makes the most for the shareholders. That’s all that matters now.”

On his former team caring more about profit than success (Le Journal de Montreal, 2019)

“No, the team is dead. I do not see anything… There is simply no management.”

When asked if he saw a way forward for Williams (Motorsport-Total.com, 2018)

“No, we’re not friends and I’m sick of Michael trying to claim we are.”

A clear warning to Schumacher to stop cosying up to JV

“Whenever something is big, like F1 is big, it attracts all the w*nkers. It attracts people who don’t have a personality of their own, but need to wear one of the team shirts or something, so that they can go back to the pub at night and tell their friends: ‘Look, I’m very important and I do this and do that and look at my business card.’ Without F1 they’d be nothings. They’d be w*nkers. And, sadly, there are just too many of them. Does that sound bad?”

Wonder what he makes of the influencer generation?

Read next: Max Verstappen has nothing left to prove – he’s already an all-time F1 great