Jacques Villeneuve, who won the 1997 world championship at the wheel of a Williams, caused a few raised eyebrows last week when he offered the view that Kimi Raikkonen, who took the title ten years later at the wheel of a Ferrari, only won the sport’s ultimate prize because he was lucky and the man who really deserved it was his Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa.
The Canadian driver made these observations while in Brazil – surprise, surprise - contesting a stock car race at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit where Raikkonen clinched his own title crown almost four years ago.
Jacques seemed to have overlooked the fact that Kimi overcame a 17-point deficit to close the gap in the final two races of the season. Despite this, Villeneuve believes that Massa deserved the title much more.
“If Kimi won the championship, he did it by luck, because he didn’t deserve it,” he insisted.
“Felipe deserved it a lot more. He was always more capable than Kimi and it was easy to beat him.”
Furthermore, Villeneuve said he thought Massa was doing an excellent job this year even though he has had to shape up against Fernando Alonso in the Maranello ranks these past two seasons.
“The problem is that Alonso arrived and, quickly, became powerful inside Ferrari,” said Jacques. “When it happens, it creates an energy that people put inside you, in this case, in Alonso. It seems that if the car wins, it will be with him. It creates a difficult situation for the other driver, who has a double task.”
Since the start of last year, of course, Raikkonen has put F1 behind him as he seeks to build an international rallying reputation at the wheel of a Citroen.
Villeneuve had nothing to say about this less-than-outstandingly successful change of career path.