1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has struck out at Formula One amid a tidal wave of criticism regarding both the aesthetics of the new cars and the new rules which they will compete under.
Fans, members of the F1 media and drivers alike have criticised the design of the new cars which see ridiculous front nose cone sections added to the cars. The idea behind the new front sections is to reduce the risk of cars getting airborne; but Red Bull aero guru Adrian Newey has warned that they could do the opposite and cause ‘submarine crashes‘.
F1 has also brought in a rule which states that the final race of the season (which is Abu Dhabi in 2014) will be worth double the points of the other races; fifty points for the winner, two for the person in tenth and so on. This also received across the board criticism, which was brushed off by Bernie Ecclestone who has now proposed to extend the rule to the final three races.
Among the people unimpressed by the new rules and regulations was Jacques Villeneuve, who raced in Formula One between 1996 and 2006 – winning the World Championship in 1997 while racing for Williams.
“The cars look as if they are asleep,” he said of the new-look machines. “For the purist, I don’t think it will be a lot of fun or very exciting. But it could be unpredictable. We might even have a Marussia on the podium. The cars look terrible and they don’t look easy to drive. And you can’t tell if a driver is driving hard.
“I think it was wrong to take the decision to slow F1 down. It was much better in my day, when it was already a lot safer than it had been in the 70s and 80s but you could still drive crazy fast.”
“With the engine regulations, everything is so restrictive that it’s not Formula One any more, there’s nothing special about it. Conserving fuel is fine, and it was great in the past. The problem is that the drivers don’t have to do it. It’s all done electronically. You sit there and it saves fuel for you, and that defeats the purpose.
“The epic has been taken out of F1. The overtaking happens because you press a button, not because you make a special move.
“I’m a purist and I love the sport. I loved the 60s and 70s, when the fans even enjoyed the races where only four cars finished and they were two laps apart. You respected what the drivers had done, what they had achieved. They are making a lot of decisions that in the long run are not helping.”
Villeneuve’s comments were not well received by F1 driver turned Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle who hit out at Villeneuve on Twitter, accusing him of making the comments for publicity.
The second of three pre-season tests gets underway this Tuesday, with the season kicking off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 16th.