Norris/Hamilton dismiss Villeneuve’s latest criticism

Date published: September 7 2019

Jacques Villeneuve thinks Sebastian Vettel should have got a penalty for his false start in Japan.

Lando Norris has denied Jacques Villeneuve’s claims that young drivers’ regular use of simulators makes them take more risks in Formula 1.

The safety debate is raging again in Formula 1 after Anthoine Hubert’s tragic death during the Belgian F2 feature race.

Villeneuve, as per usual, offered his controversial opinion that the amount of time which young drivers spend in simulators has made them oblivious to the real risks of Formula 1 and the consequences of accidents.

“Instead of letting the young drivers test, they sit for a week in the race simulator,” Villeneuve was quoted by Belgian channel RTBF. “When they get to the racetrack, they behave as if they’re still in the simulator.

“It is not the same stress as it used to be. It does not bring the same adrenaline. The assessment of danger, of the enormous risk that they take when they go to the racetrack, is no longer the same.”

But Norris, who is well known for the amount of time he spends in simulators away from race weekends, believes Villeneuve is just using it as an “excuse” following the Hubert tragedy.

“I don’t think it’s got anything to do with sim racing,” Norris told Motorsport.com when quizzed on Villeneuve’s comments.

“It’s just something he maybe wants to use as an excuse for it.

“Safety is getting much better, especially compared to when he would have been racing. It’s not like we completely forget it. We don’t go flat out and not care about anything. We still realise what danger is.

“Everything is getting safer, so sometimes you take more risks than at other times. I don’t know what happened on the weekend, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m sure it wasn’t anyone doing anything stupid or risking anything.

“I think it was something small that turned into something pretty big. I don’t think it’s because we’re younger, more fearless, less fearless. It’s unlucky. That’s about it.”

Lewis Hamilton also dismissed Villeneuve’s claims, but made it clear that he tries not to listen to anything the Canadian says anyway.

“I don’t really agree with a lot of the opinions of that individual and I don’t know if anyone [does],” he said. “I personally don’t listen to that individual’s opinion.

“But [on the simulator link] I don’t think so. I think the kids are on the track…if you look at the kids on the ski slopes, from small up they have no fears and it is the same with us race drivers, whatever age.

“I am sure as you get a bid older it [fear] creeps in, but the simulators don’t make you more or less fearful. I don’t agree with that no.”

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