Mar 10, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT
Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has declared that four-time reigning champ Sebastian Vettel will not continue his title-winning run into a fifth year.
The always outspoken Canadian, who is set to return to the Indianapolis 500 this May, told a pair of Italian publications that Renault’s problematic preseason testing has already finished off Vettel and Red Bull Racing’s hopes for another crown.
“He’s not going to win this year for sure,” Villeneuve told Autosprint and La Repubblica. “To me, Renault seems completely lost and unable even to finish a Grand Prix. Even if [Red Bull] are making a new car for the European races, it won’t change anything — maybe they’ll do 30 laps instead of 15. It’s not the car but the engine.
“I’m joking, but why bother going to Australia? They can’t do half a Grand Prix and are slower than most.”
Red Bull and Renault’s work in the preseason was repeatedly marred by gremlins on both the new RB10 and Renault V-6 engine. While it’s never wise to count out a defending champion, let alone a four-time defending champion like Vettel, reliability figures to be the top priority for him and the team through the early stages of the season, which begins this weekend in Australia.
For his part, Vettel has conceded that Red Bull is not a favorite to win in Oz but has not given up completely.
“[Red Bull and I] have achieved a lot together and I know everyone is working flat out as normal,” he said last weekend.
Going back to Villeneuve, he believes that Mercedes has to be considered the early favorite for the 2014 title but saw the team’s driving tandem of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg as “without a spark.”
He also told the Italian papers that Ferrari remains in striking distance equipment-wise and that he thinks Kimi Raikkonen’s move back to the Scuderia – where he’ll go head-to-head with fellow ex-World Champion Fernando Alonso – will pay dividends.
“For the first time, I see [Raikkonen] working seriously. Maybe his year without pay was good for him,” he said.
“Alonso is a fighter from the first lap and so he might use too much fuel. It also depends on the attitude that he has…The Alonso of 2012 could win this year, but not the Alonso of 2013.”
The Aussie GP weekend officially begins with Thursday night’s opening practice at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra. Coverage starts at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the Countdown to F1 season preview show.
A full weekend schedule can be found here.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
The difficulties faced by Formula 1 in the United States seem to be long gone, with a great home in Austin, Texas and a booming fan base. Has the problem child of a market finally been righted?
Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT
Behind the scenes of Lewis Hamilton’s day at the TODAY Show.
Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
When it comes to this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, John Force is taking his effort to win his record-extending 17th Funny Car championship to a high power. As in 16X.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kelli Stavast talked with Jeff Gordon about the difficulties of advancing to the final round of the Chase.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT
It was just a matter of time for NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Bob Vandergriff Jr., and now that time has come.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
With some of the things he says or does on the racetrack, Kyle Busch might seem like he’s all wet at times.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Hawksworth: “We’re here to win, to give 120 percent.”
Oct 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Downtown Austin gets treated to the first big event of the F1 weekend.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT
Coming up today: More on this week’s critical test at Homestead-Miami Speedway; an in-depth look at the Drive for Diversity program; Parker Kligerman shows you what it takes to be tops at Texas in the NBC Sports iRacing Simulator.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
After 10 delays to resolve the most serious charges against him stemming from a three-state police chase that reached speeds as high as 150-mph, will the 11th time finally be the charm for former NASCAR and World of Outlaws racer Tyler Walker?
Oct 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
A.J. Foyt’s Honda-powered team expands to two cars, with Jack Hawksworth joining Takuma Sato in the lineup.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
Even though it will only be his third appearance this season in the Nationwide Series, it’s kind of fitting that Florida native Scott Lagasse Jr. will compete in the third NNS race and season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
CORE autosport looks back on its fourth straight PC team title.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Voda will serve primarily as host for pre/post-race coverage of Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events on NBC Sports.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
The perils of street racing and dealing with city governments: Baltimore was a case study in what could go wrong.
Oct 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Jonathan Bomarito back in a Mazda, now in a prototype. I
Oct 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver gets acquainted with Toyota’s newest challenger.
Oct 29, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Schmidt Peterson’s first Indy Lights driver is confirmed.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native is inducted into the Broward County (Fla.) Hall of Fame as part of a class that includes two Olympic gold medalists and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
A simple “in Indianapolis” tweet could well mean Sam Bird is looking at an IndyCar opportunity.
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