Jacques Villeneuve launches stinging ‘all image’ Daniel Ricciardo criticism

Michelle Foster
Jacques Villeneuve and Daniel Ricciardo

Jacques Villeneuve says persona not performance has kept Daniel Ricciardo in F1

Jacques Villeneuve has fired on Daniel Ricciardo, claiming he should thank Netflix for his job as it’s not his performances keeping him in Formula 1.

Having parted ways with McLaren at the end of two disappointing years in Woking, yet two years that included an eighth Grand Prix win for the Aussie, Ricciardo opted to spend 2023 on the sidelines only to return to the track with Red Bull’s junior team.

Going full circle in his career, Ricciardo rejoined the team with whom he spent his first full season on the grid back in 2012.

‘You can’t base his long career on results’

And he’s continued with the team, now known as ‘Visa Cash App RB’ or just ‘RB’, for the 2024 championship with the potential to return to Red Bull next season as Sergio Perez’s replacement.

Villeneuve, however, thinks it’s the 34-year-old’s public persona, not his results, that have led to his longevity in the sport.

“Ricciardo is a pure product of image and modern social media,” the 1997 World Champion told betideas.com. “You can’t base his long career on results. You just can’t. They don’t stack up.

“It is amazing. He can thank Netflix and all that kind of stuff. His smile, his attitude in the paddock in front of the camera.

“Ultimately even against [Yuki] Tsunoda he doesn’t do brilliantly. But he brings value to F1 and that’s why he is there.”

The Canadian reckons there are other options for Red Bull’s junior team who are as quick as the Honey Badger, but for now his image is keeping him in the car.

“There are many drivers who are as quick as him but don’t have his image,” he added. “So, you might as well take the one with the image.”

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It’s not the first time Villeneuve has had a pop at Ricciardo as last year he criticised the Honey Badger for “smiling in commercials”.

He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “I would ask kids who want to be drivers today – do you want it out of passion or because you want to be like Daniel Ricciardo, smiling in commercials?”

Later that month Ricciardo was asked in a press conference whether his ‘marketing and PR value have often clouded the narrative’.

He replied: “I would say, in short, no, I think, look, we’ve all certainly…. all of our profiles have grown, in the last few years, in particular, since Drive to Survive. So we’ve all kind of felt a bit of that.

“I think just me with my personality, and also just having some fun with the sport. Yeah, that probably got a little bigger as well, because of that. It draws a few LOLs every now and then but I think generally, first and foremost, I certainly see myself as a race car driver, not an entertainer or anything like that.

“It is funny sometimes, people come up to me like: ‘you were great in that season’ and I’m: ‘racing season – or Drive to Survive season?’ So yeah, for sure, to some, we’re maybe not all viewed as race car drivers. But yeah, it’s just it’s part of it.

“But I think we’re all also, as I said, building profiles and a bit of a brand, but it’s not anything that’s taken away from the racing side of it. And that’s first and foremost.

“And I think that’s, for sure, through all of this, it can maybe get away from you a little bit of time so me coming back into it this year and having a little bit of that time off, it certainly made me kind of just figure out what I’m about, I guess, moving forward and how I want to go racing.

“Probably just removing a few things and kind of going back to a little bit of the basics. And yeah, just making sure that I am seen as a race car driver who’s still hungry and determined and not someone who’s just here for a good time.”

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