Jacques Villeneuve has slammed the “dangerous driving” of Lance Stroll in Austin, believing his crash with Fernando Alonso should have been worthy of a one-race suspension for the Aston Martin driver.
Alonso had been tucked in Stroll’s slipstream on the back straight after a Safety Car restart during the United States Grand Prix but as he moved to the left in trying to overtake, Stroll went with him and Alonso tagged his wheel.
That sent the Alpine driver airborne and Stroll’s Aston Martin was heavily damaged and strewn across the track, with Alonso having an almighty landing before, remarkably, being able to return to the pits and carry on with his race.
Both drivers went to the stewards and Stroll was found to be at fault for the incident, being given a three-place grid penalty for the upcoming Mexican Grand Prix and two penalty points on his FIA Super Licence.
Stroll acknowledged he had moved late to defend from his future Aston Martin team-mate but there had still been room to the left of him to get by, and felt it was more of a racing incident.
Alonso admitted after the race “the fear is still in my stomach” after the incident, and Villeneuve shares the opinion of four-time former IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti that the FIA need to step in before someone is badly hurt in such scenarios.
The 1997 World Champion also lays blame at Stroll’s door for the crash, believing moves like that can even be fatal.
Fernando Alonso: "The fear is still in my stomach. After the crash, I couldn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the race."
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) October 24, 2022
“We had a pretty exciting race in America but not always for the right reasons,” Villeneuve wrote in his post-race column for Formule1.nl.
“We saw a bit of everything – masterful driving but also dangerous actions and drivers who drove badly. It was a mix of anything and everything, but that’s what this show is all about.
“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.
“The FIA need to step up and hand out more penalties for this kind of action. Even if it doesn’t lead to an accident, because we have been lucky it didn’t go wrong before. And it already starts in the lower classes.
“In Formula 4 and Formula 3 you sometimes see guys driving like they are in a video game. But racing is dangerous and this has nothing to do with racing – or defending well.”