Villeneuve: ‘They’re going 10mph, who cares?’

I had a few people message me with pictures of the infamous collision between Formula 1 champions Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve back in 1997. The were kind enough to attach a picture of the incident and while I appreciate their sentiment, I don’t think what happened in Baku is remotely related other than both drivers being German and in a red car.

Good on Autosport for anticipating my defense by sourcing Jacques Villeneuve himself on the incident and his response may surprise you.

“It was very different,” he explained to Autosport. “They’re going 10mph, who cares?

“Of course it was ugly, but ultimately Lewis brake-tested him.

“I’m a driver, I’ve been there. Whenever a driver did that to me, then I would do whatever Seb did.

“He got a penalty, the biggest he could get I guess according to the new rules.”

There were a lot of messages sent to me with links to news articles stating that the FIA reviewed data from Lewis Hamilton’s car that showed no brake-testing and the wording of all those articles struck me as inconclusive and possibly misleading. One article suggested his previous lap was the same as the re-start lap which, if you listened to our race review podcast, you would know that we feel these two laps are distinctively different and not a good litmus test.

There were other articles that said he didn’t significantly brake or lift differently than other re-starts and while this may be true, there have been some accusations that suggest that his actual speed radically dropped meaning he lifted. Who knows? I find it all a case of pro and con Lewis camps trying to make a case with crafty verbiage and suspect “data”. The fact is, even if he did brake-test him, Seb needs to be heads up and his reaction was in poor form.

The fan and mobocracy reaction to Seb’s reaction has been equally silly. Think of the children, he’ll inspire road rage deaths et. al. Really? If you listened to our podcast, both Paul and I make a case that after watching the on-board camera of Seb’s, I’m not entirely convinced he meant to hit Lewis but it would be even more embarrassing to say that he cocked up and accidently drove into the champ. Don’t believe us? Well, a F1 champion in the form of Villeneuve might.

“I don’t think he was trying to hit him,” said the 1997 champion.

“He had one hand on the wheel and was looking at him and pointing the finger.

“You don’t hit with your wheels turned like that, you will break your own car, and with one hand – if you’re going to hit someone, you have two hands on the wheel!

“In a way I am happy to see that drivers have emotions. It’s good, it’s fun.

“We have the two guys fighting for the championship, getting angry with each other, and ultimately no damage was done.

“What’s the big issue? It’s great TV, it’s good to see that they’re on it.

“Much nicer than Lewis asking [Valtteri] Bottas to slow Vettel down. That was embarrassing.”

There is one point that JV makes that no one is speaking about and that is Hamilton’s request for Valtteri Bottas to slow down and aid him in passing Vettel in the closing laps of the race. That was slightly odd given the Bottas was driving his tail off trying to reach the podium which is what Mercedes pay him to do and Lewis is under the notion that Valtteri is there to play helper and be the number two driver…which the team, Valtteri and others say isn’t the case. So which is it? Did Lewis just tell the world that Valtteri is a clear number two at Mercedes and his role is to play wet-nurse to Lewis?

It’s all very interesting and makes for good TV and press. No, I’m not beating up on Lewis, he drove a good race and got scuttled by an errant head support and Seb did a bad move by hitting him in anger or error. What I find ridiculous is the outrage over the situation and castigating of Seb or Lewis. I also have a difficult time in understanding what F1 fans want. Some said this was a great, eventful race and others thought it was a sham. What do you want? I thought this was a fun race to watch and it certainly mixed things up a bit.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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So Seb hit Lewis once in error and a second time in anger or again in error? Great driving…..the kind of thing we’ve seen from Daniil Kvyat…..except this was under a safety car and they weren’t even racing at that point. Fabulous excuses all round……not buying any of it.


Surely Vettel should not have done that. And he fully deserved the penalty (and the donkey of the race award)!

But I am not sure Hamilton should try to get the moral high ground here. Every top F1 driver did things you would not want your children to do. Like lying to the stewards. Or greeting Justin Biber on the Monaco podium with “Yo Dog!”. Which was a crime against humanity in my opinion.


Those are crimes that truly deserve punishment, clearly bringing the sport into disrepute ;-)


Seb vs Lewis – Isn’t it up to the lead car to set the pace as they see fit, within regulations? Isn’t it up to the following driver to keep their eyes open and leave a gap to the car in front under a caution, within reason? And shouldn’t a four time world champion have enough car control to pull up beside another driver and express displeasure without running into the other car? Seriously, in the Buxton interview Vettel sounded like a five year old caught eating a cookie he just stole from the cookie jar. “What cookie? I found… Read more »


I think Bottas should have been voted as the driver of the race. That drive was something!
You are right that this drive should be enough for Merc to extend his contract and if they still delay it then they for sure they are hoping for one of them to come their way – Max, Danny or Alonso (in that order)

Andy warhol

After ramming Kimi (again) due to his excess enthusiasm or poor judgement. BOT should have had a stop and go.

Then there is the crazy unlap yourself under safety car rule, which gave the extra benefit of heating up his tyres ahead of anyone else.

If all this were taken into consideration, BOT was a very lucky boy on Sunday.


You make a good point about bottas un-lapping under safety car and heating up his tires ahead of everyone else. I didn’t think about it.

the Late Idi Armin

“Oh for f— sake, man! Who the f—! Oh, I’m out. Crash. Somebody hit me in the f—ing rear in Turn 2, then someone hit me in the f—ing rear again in Turn 3. Honestly. What the f— are we doing here?”

Negative Camber


Peter Riva
Buddy Hardin

Haven’t seen much on this UK story re: Ham retiring at years end. Maybe he will, or maybe got to Ferrari. Vettel and Alonso to Merc, Ham and Bottas to Ferrari? Who knows. If Ham loses to years in a row, I bet he is gone or retired.

Buddy Hardin

Sorry for the spelling errors,
…GOES to Ferrari.
loses TWO years…

Wayne Rentoul

It’s not like it’s Senna and Prost, now that was full on.


Hmmm I think that the situation is very much about to get full on now that the ground rules have been drawn……..

Andy warhol

Or Schumacher various times. He rammed Hill ’94 for the WDC. Then tried to run Villeneuve off the track a few years later in ’97 again for the championship. In ’98, after crashing into Coultard on track in the rain, he went to the McLaren pit and the mechanics had to hold him back from fighting!

Gaetano Colosi

Finally … a balanced article. I am sick of reading about how Seb should have been black flagged!
Another point that seems to have escaped scrutiny….. Seb got his penalty very late. The penalty decision appeared to be handed down after it was obvious Lewis had an issue with his headrest. The initial thought was ‘to be investigated after the race’ seemed to change to an in-race penalty due to Ham’s issues … or am I reading too much into that?

Schumi Toronto

I thought the same thing – Hammy’s got an issue, let’s even it up by giving Vettel a penalty and keep them together, to keep the championship close!

Joshua Z.H. Wu

The timing of it was definitely suspicious. Not sure what they would’ve done to punish him post race though. Grid place penalties?


All this talk about Vettel hitting Lewis and all Hamilton’s fans demanding that Vettel should be banned the next race and they including Lewis should be thankful for Vettel hitting him. If Vettel didn’t have the penalty, he would’ve won the race and have a bigger gap in the points. I read the Lewis is not going to talk to Vettel and that he is going to do the talking on the track. I know the kind of talk that Lewis will do on the track: 1) “Can you ask Bottas to slow down so I can get close to… Read more »


Point 3) LOL! :-)


As usual, I agree with NC. Bottom line, I’ll take bumping wheels over what we’ve endured the last few years any day. It’s called passion and I love seeing it. I like Lewis and Seb but Seb has made it clear, he won’t be as accepting as Rossberg to Lewis’s veiled antics; regardless of public outcry or resulting penalty. Game on!!

Dave Domenicano

Why make such a fuss with the Hamilton/Bottas incident? We didn’t hear/read about it in the news because there’s nothing talk about! He asked the team if Bottas could slow down to help him pass Vettel, the team said no and explained Bottas was going for a podium. That’s it. Not a word from anyone after that… I don’t know why you write all that garbage in your article. You should write soap operas, not F1 articles…


Ok everyone… all through the safety car periods Lewis was on the radio to the Merc crew saying please tell Charlie W the pace car is way to slow and this is unsafe. Yet when lights go out he backs off the throttle (note I did not say “stands on the brakes”) to try to back everyone up for the restart and he did this at a blind corner. Gary Anderson pointed out on the Autosport podcast that this was a recipe for disaster as anyone coming around that corner would have had no chance of avoiding a collision if… Read more »

Geoff Peterson

Did you miss Mercedes call the previous restart telling Hamilton he came close to overtaking the safety car on the restart? Because the Baku straight is so ludicrous, Hamilton needed that gap or he would again risk overtaking that turtle of a safety car.


Didn’t miss that, If he was really concerned about that aspect then Hamilton would have slowed before the corner not done it after the corner when he was unsighted. The issue here was that Hamilton was trying to be clever and catch the following cars out (and that it did). Unfortunately it really caught people out due to the blind nature of the corner.

Schumi Toronto

I don’t often agree with Villeneuve, but he was RIGHT ON this time! The over reaction to this incident is incredible! It is also GOLD for Liberty Media!


Sheesh the evidence is there. One can say that Hamilton is at liberty to drive how he wants on a restart and Vettel hit him in the rear so Vettel is at fault. As professionals there is an expectation to drive like said professional. Second restart in a row and everyone is upset and chomping at the bit. Hamilton DID brake from 72kph to 53kph through the turn (the only time during the race that Hamilton would brake through the turn?) As Villaneuve said, they were only doing 10mph! Look at the overhead and the situation looks benign. Anyway, FIA… Read more »

Andy warhol

Mr Villeneuve, it would appear that a certain Mr Jean Todt cares…

Jean T has an election coming up and needs to be seen as the boss.

I doubt that this will change anything for VET or HAM regarding Baku , but all drivers doing anything like this in the future will get a mandatory race ban for bring the sport into disrepute.