Jacques Villeneuve issues statement to ‘put things straight’ about Charles Leclerc’s helmet tribute

Jamie Woodhouse
Charles Leclerc's Gilles Villeneuve tribute helmet causes issues with Villeneuve family. June 2023

Charles Leclerc's Gilles Villeneuve tribute helmet causes issues with Villeneuve family. June 2023

1997 F1 champ Jacques Villeneuve said an “unnecessary controversy” was made out of Charles Leclerc’s tribute helmet to Gilles Villeneuve, and discussed a “heartfelt conversation” which took place between the pair.

Leclerc unveiled a one-off tribute helmet to the late, great Gilles Villeneuve ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, the event held at the Montreal venue named after the six-time grand prix winner, who tragically died in an accident in 1982.

Leclerc though used his traditional race helmet in Friday practice and reports later claimed that the Villeneuve family were far from happy having not been consulted at all on the initiative, with Gilles’ son Jacques said to be leading the complaint.

The all-clear was later given ahead of qualifying for Leclerc to run the design, and Jacques took to Instagram to “clarify” the situation, revealing that Leclerc called him to “sincerely apologise” for the situation, though he stressed to the Ferrari driver that he did see it very much as a “touching tribute.”

The drama then was resolved, though it was one nowhere near as big as it was made out to be, Jacques explained, who said it was his sister who first raised the alarm to him “in a state of anger.”

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A statement from Jacques read: “To clarify the situation regarding the recent incident where some individuals felt the need to insult me and my family over Charles Leclerc using my dad’s helmet, I want to provide some context.

“As I was arriving at the track, my sister called me in a state of anger. She had seen Charles using our dad’s helmet without any prior knowledge or communication about it. The entire family was taken by surprise, as we had not been informed beforehand.

“I immediately conveyed the message to Charles, who was kind enough to give me a call. We had a heartfelt conversation where he sincerely apologised for the situation. I reassured him that I considered it a touching tribute and that I personally had no issues with it.

“However, I stressed the importance of him reaching out to my sister, as she is the one responsible for managing everything related to our dad. I also suggested that he invite both our sister and mother to the track to address any remaining concerns.

“Fortunately, everything eventually worked out, but it would have been preferable for these discussions and arrangements to take place before the weekend in a respectful and professional manner.

“Unfortunately, the incident was blown out of proportion, turning it into an unnecessary controversy.”

Leclerc was able to deliver a decent Canadian GP recovery drive from P10 on the grid, crossing the line P4.