Jacques Villeneuve has slammed Max Verstappen’s 2015 debut as “the worst thing ever for formula one”.
1997 world champion Villeneuve, who raced in F1 against Dutch youngster Verstappen’s father Jos, thinks Red Bull‘s decision to promote a 16-year-old who hasn’t “paid his dues” will render the value of a race seat at the pinnacle of motor sport “meaningless”.
“It will either destroy him or, even if he is successful right away, then F1 will be meaningless,” the outspoken French Canadian is quoted in Belgium by the Mirror.
“What will F1 be? It will be nothing.”
Villeneuve, who won the Indy 500 and America’s premier open wheel series before entering F1 in 1996, also criticised the FIA for making it too easy for drivers like Verstappen to obtain their super license.
“There is something that is flawed there. Basically, it’s like getting all the presents without deserving anything.
“It’s the wrong way round — Caesar and Napoleon were good from the beginning but it takes time before you become an emperor,” he said.
Villeneuve has been criticised himself recently for always making controversial statements, but his view on this matter was echoed by Jolyon Palmer.
23-year-old Palmer, another son of a F1 driver, is currently leading the GP2 series and he said Red Bull’s signing of Verstappen is “crazy”.
Others, however, are defending Red Bull’s decision on the basis that formula one is now appropriate for younger and younger drivers.
Adrian Newey, who is taking a step back in F1 out of frustration at the new regulations, said he thinks the cars no longer need “super heroes” to race them.
“I think If you watch MotoGP then you certainly have that feeling, that those guys are superheroes, whereas the current crop of cars, the power-to-weight is not fantastic,” he said on Friday.
“Going back to the 1300hp-in-qualifying formula one cars that were quite a bit lighter than they are now — those things, you had to bolt on some fairly special appendages to drive them.
“I think the fact that young drivers – no disrespect to them at all – that they can jump in and instantly be at the front, or competitive certainly, is an interesting one,” said Newey.
A good example is Belgian GP rookie Andre Lotterer, who said he was surprised when he got behind the wheel of the Caterham on Friday.
“The grip left a negative impression,” the reigning Le Mans winner admitted. “It’s really low.
“In the LMP1 car you feel less power but we have a huge diffuser and very good tyres and in the corners you can push harder.”
F1 legend Niki Lauda, however, said F1 is simply changing, and that the “computer kid” generation is ready earlier for the big time.
“Kvyat has shown it already — a generational change is coming,” he told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport.
“It’s also good for F1 because younger people will start to watch.”
And Lauda said the Ricciardo, Kvyat and Verstappen generation is putting pressure on the old guard, like Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who earns “90 per cent more than those kids put together”.