Villeneuve: Jeddah F1 battle was “rental karting”

Former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has described the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as “rental karting”.

Villeneuve: Jeddah F1 battle was “rental karting”

The Canadian has also questioned whether F1 is becoming too much of a “Hollywood show”.

TV pundit Villeneuve, who was involved in a messy battle for the 1997 world championship with Michael Schumacher, questioned many of the events that unfolded during the controversial Jeddah night race.

"It wasn't F1, it was rental karting,” he told Autosport. “Everything was wrong. So I'm not sure what to say.

“And it's hard to stay neutral, it's hard to give a comment on what happened every time and be perceived as being neutral. You will always be perceived as taking sides, and that's when it becomes a bit too much.

"Do we want sport and good F1? Or do we just want a Hollywood show? If you want a Hollywood show, today was amazing. But is that what F1 is all about? I don't know. I mean, I think today Frank [Williams] would have turned in his grave, seeing this race.

“And then when you see the team principals, everybody is shouting, and putting pressure even on the marshals and so on, that become ridiculous. It really has become ridiculous.

“It was great for the fans. So that probably will increase the viewership. Which is great for F1. But we're starting to get away from the sport, that's all. So ultimately, it depends if you're a purist or not.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, do battle at the restart

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12, do battle at the restart

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Villeneuve questioned the tactics of both Hamilton and Verstappen.

"Max did go off and gain an advantage,” he said of the controversial Turn 1 passing incident. “On the other hand, his front wheels were ahead of the rear wheels of Lewis. And in the rules it says if that happens, you have to give the right of way, which Lewis didn't.

“So which rule should you follow at that point? Would Max have cut the corner had Lewis left enough room or not? That we will never know.

“Ultimately, yes, Max cut the corner, he probably wasn't going to make it anyway. But do you follow the rule to the letter, or the intention? That's when it becomes very difficult to stay neutral.

“They all play these little tricks normally. When Lewis does them, he does them in a way that there's always the doubt whether he did it on purpose or not. It was the same way against [Nico] Rosberg. When Rosberg did it, he got caught out and it looked dirty.

“When Lewis was doing it he didn't do it on purpose, it's clean. And he's a master of that and he's amazing at that, of course.”

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Regarding the collision that happened when Verstappen slowed to let his rival past Villeneuve added: "Someone slows down in front of you, you overtake. The problem is those stupid DRS lines. And Lewis didn't want to cross the DRS ahead of Max. He knew Max was letting him by. He just didn't want Max to have the DRS for the next straightline, because Max would have overtaken him, so they both played dumb there.

"I'm amazed at the how strong that front wing is. Because it got banged twice and was still there. Wow, that was impressive! But you could tell the frustration of Max with the Mercedes horsepower.

"This weekend Max just wasn't there. Just with qualifying, he should have got pole and he lost it. So this weekend, Lewis deserved to win anyway."

Villeneuve also questioned the radio discussion between race director Michael Masi and the Mercedes and Red Bull teams regarding the grid positions for the restart: "A deal being made? Never heard of that. It's not in the rules. That one, I didn't get it."

Villeneuve, who was hit by Schumacher in the 1997 Jerez finale but stayed on track to win the title, is hoping for a calmer Abu Dhabi GP weekend.

"It's a Red Bull track. But with the engine that Lewis has every track is a Lewis track now. I just hope we have a nice clean race. And may the best man win, and not anything like today, not Hollywood, at least not in the last race. We already got our Hollywood hits this year."

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