At the grand age of 44, it is fair to say that Jacques Joseph Charles Villeneuve is outside the prime of his career. But his announcement as Venturi’s new lead drive is perfect timing for Formula E as the sport heads into its second season, welcoming its first former F1 champ.
Could the Canadian become the sport’s outspoken and hard-racing personality to take on current champ Nelson Piquet Jr? I think so…
Speed and success
While most famous as the 1997 Formula 1 World Champion, Villeneuve’s career has been a glittering one.
He claimed the coveted CART Rookie of the Year Award in 1994, a title also held by the likes of Nigel Mansell, Bobby Rahal and Juan Pablo Montoya. But this was not his only accolade State-side, as Villeneuve is one of only three drivers to have claimed the Indy 500 trophy alongside the CART and F1 crowns.
The Canadian made an acclaimed start to his F1 career. Having taken pole on his debut, the Canadian nearly won on his debut in Melbourne, but for an oil leak, which handed victory to Damon Hill. However, in he claimed his first victory in just his fourth race and went on to challenge Hill for the title, claiming it for himself the following year.
Throughout his career, Villeneuve has been renowned by his mechanics for his ability to set up a quick car and extract the maximum pace from the machinery at his disposal – as illustrated by his 10 pole positions in 1997.
Hard racing, hard talking
Unlike many of his counterparts, Villeneuve’s charm and honest nature have won him many fans worldwide and he has often played the role as both the hero and the villain in the categories in which he’s raced.
The official F1 website pays homage to this, stating “Opinionated and outspoken, he defied convention and challenged authority, saying exactly what he thought in an era when drivers were expected to express only sweet-talking platitudes. Villeneuve called his well-behaved peers ‘corporate robots’ and said fans wanted real characters they could identify with.”
This is exactly what he will bring to Formula E. He will bring character and hard-fought racing in his unique style.
At a time when F1 is being widely criticised for overly restricting what its drivers can say, the Canadian racer will being a refreshing honesty to a sport that has already established a reputation for being open and accessible for its fans.
I for one cannot wait to see Villeneuve back on the grid in a single seater for the first time since he left F1 in 2006. His unique character and natural ability should make him a handful both on and off
I for one cannot wait to see Villeneuve back on the grid in a single seater for the first time since he left F1 in 2006. His unique character and natural ability should make him a handful both on and off track, providing Venturi can give him a competitive car, and add to the entertainment of a sport that whetted the appetite of motorsports fans worldwide in its debut year. I predict a new FanBoost favourite for 2015/16