Villeneuve: young drivers have videogame approach, lack ‘respect’

If you watched the GP3 accident in Monaco this year, then most likely you’ll agree that Conor Daly is a lucky young man. The crash was a wild ride into the air and catch fence which was eerily reminiscent of the late Dan Wheldon’s tragic crash in a similar fencing. The aftermath of the incident certainly raised concerns over the type of driving fans are seeing from the young drivers coming up through the ranks.

The criticism has ranged from concern to outrage with many fans feeling the blocking maneuvers were egregious and warranted a ban from the sport but GP3 isn’t the only form of racing that is seeing its share of aggressive driving. While Formula One history is ripe with aggressive driving, many fans will direct you back to a YouTube clip of the late Gilles Villeneuve and Renè Arnoux as an example of how aggressive driving can and should be tempered with respect and clean racing. No surprise then that the son of Gilles Villeneuve, world champion Jacques Villeneuve (JV), would have strong words for today’s young drivers and their video-game style of driving. Express has the quote:

“There is no respect amongst them and they do things that you would see in Formula Four and that should never happen in Formula One,” said Villeneuve. “They don’t even realise it. So there seems to be little common sense. But it’s also down to stewards who don’t seem to punish that, or when they do they punish it the wrong way round. Everybody has fallen asleep on the fact that F1 is dangerous and not a video game.

“They don’t realise how dangerous it can be, so they haven’t learnt that respect. And sometimes you see them drive the same as they would drive in a video game and it is just fun.

“Well it is actually dangerous. It’s down to sportsmanship and respecting opponents. In the years when F1 was dangerous, 20 or 30 years ago, the risk of dying was very high.”

JV has had his own brush with disaster in Formula 1 and knows first hand how dangerous it can be. One need only watch this YouTube clip to understand how close the champion has come to serious injury. The Canadian will join Sky Sports F1 this weekend for the Canadian Grand Prix coverage.

What do you think of the current crop of young drivers from junior ranks to F1? Are we seeing a lack of respect for the dangers of racing in F1? thankfully there has not been a death in a Formula One race since the tragic passing of Ayrton Senna in 1994 but Felipe Massa’s incident in 2009 reminds us just how quick things can happen. There is no question that motor sport is dangerous with stories such as Dan Wheldon, Robert Kubica, Marco Simoncelli, Henry Surtees and even Felipe Massa. With the advent of limited testing and simulators work in F1, perhaps the experience and constant presence of serious injury or death every time a young driver gets in a car is reduced and could this, as Villeneuve suggests, be what is shaping the driving of these young drivers or are his comments over the top?

Has driving reduced itself in craft and respect due to the safety or perceived safety young drivers feel these days or is it a case of the money and stakes being so high that chances have to be taken if anyone is to make gains in the world of motor sport? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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