Villeneuve: Ferrari are the new Mercedes

Michelle Foster
Charles Leclerc into parc ferme after winning in Melbourne. Australia April 2022

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc into parc ferme after winning in Melbourne. Australia April 2022

Jacques Villeneuve has offered words of encouragement to the tifosi, telling them that this season the Ferrari is “very fast” and labelling them the “new Mercedes”.

Although it is just three races into this year’s 23-race championship, all signs are pointing to a great season for Ferrari and especially Charles Leclerc.

The Monégasque driver has been on the podium in all three grands prix, winning two of those – Bahrain and Australia.

Taking the fastest lap points in all three, he has raced out to 34-point advantage in the title race and it has former F1 driver Villeneuve saying this could be Ferrari’s season.

“In Italy I am often asked ‘Is this the year, is it really going to happen?’ The tifosi find it hard to believe. You see them thinking ‘When will things go wrong?’ They are used to that after the Alonso and Vettel years,” he told

“But Ferrari is very fast, actually it is the new Mercedes!”

It is a marked turnaround in form as last season it was Max Verstappen versus Lewis Hamilton for the race wins, this season the Red Bull suffering with unreliability while the Mercedes W13 has severe porpoising.

The RB18 has retired three times, Verstappen out of the Bahrain and Australian races while Sergio Perez made it a double DNF at the Sakhir circuit.

“At Red Bull people are frustrated, there is no other way,” Villeneuve said. “The car is fast but difficult to drive.

“To get the last much-needed tenths in the battle against Ferrari, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have to pull out all the stops.

“Ferrari is marginally faster but apparently easier to drive and easier to tune. They will still be near the front with a lesser weekend. That is psychologically tough for Red Bull.

“They are used to chasing Mercedes but now they are the champions. That brings another pressure.

“They should have been top four with both drivers and second among the constructors but that is nowhere near the case.”

Those DNFs and lost points, 34 for Verstappen alone and 49 for the team as a whole, have been compounded by Leclerc’s runaway form.


Villeneuve continued: “These are very expensive DNFs, also because Charles Leclerc continues to win. He now has the championship under control.

“Of course there are still 20 races to go and a lot of work still to be done. But he has his team-mate at a distance, the team more or less behind him and a gap to his main competitor Max Verstappen.”


PlanetF1 verdict


Are Ferrari the 'new Mercedes'?

1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has given the Tifosi hope by labelling Ferrari the 'new Mercedes'.