Skip to content

Jacques Villeneuve: Vettel’s World Championship reign over

Mar 10, 2014, 2:31 PM EDT

Sebastian Vettel AP

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Power refusing to give up in IndyCar title defence

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Despite running fifth in the standings with three races to go, Power hasn’t given up on retaining the no. 1 for 2016.

  2. Drivers unfazed by longer F1 calendar in 2016

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    The 2016 F1 season is set to swell to a record 21 races.

  3. Ericsson pleased with first ten races at Sauber, but regrets missed opportunities

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Marcus Ericsson of Sweden and Sauber F1 drives ahead of Felipe Nasr of Brazil and Sauber F1 during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ericsson reflects on his first half-season with Sauber that has brought his first points in F1, but also presented some missed opportunities.

  4. MRTI: Seven races on tap for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000 in critical weekend

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    With seven races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend, it’s an important one for the entire Mazda Road to Indy.

  5. Castroneves confident of challenging for win at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:42 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    His recent record may suggest otherwise, but Castroneves believes he can gun for the race win this weekend.

  6. Bahrain to host additional GP2/GP3 round in November

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Both series will support the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Bahrain International Circuit in November.

  7. Rahal donning the helmet of The Ohio State University this weekend at Mid-Ohio (PHOTOS)

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:16 AM EDT

    GRpreMidOhelmet Getty Images

    From Columbus, Ohio, No. 15, it’s the Ohio State University helmet of Graham Rahal…

  8. Preview: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio critical in IndyCar title chase

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:56 AM EDT

    WhoCouldWin Getty Images

    The third-to-last race of the IndyCar season is an important one for the championship battle.

  9. IndyCar issues manufacturer points penalites following Iowa race

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    indycar logo2

    IndyCar penalizes Honda for five engines that did not “attain their life cycle.”

  10. It’s “never-say-die” for Graham Rahal with three races left

    Jul 29, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Rahal is second in the points and takes his career best season to his home track of Mid-Ohio.

  11. Paralyzed driver Michael Johnson returning to track in Pro Mazda

    Jul 29, 2015, 2:37 PM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda Photo: Pro Mazda

    Johnson will make his first start of 2015 this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  12. Simon Pagenaud ‘agonizingly close’ to wins at Mid-Ohio, not to success in 2015

    Jul 29, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    California Speedway Getty Images

    Simon Pagenaud looking for first top-fin finish since Detroit race one.

  13. Scott Dixon looking to add to record win total at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 29, 2015, 12:02 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    In eight IndyCar races at Mid-Ohio, Scott Dixon has a record five wins.

  14. With three races left, who could still win in IndyCar, season 2015?

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    WhoCouldWin Getty Images

    There’s still a good seven to 10 high-quality drivers without a win in IndyCar, 2015, who could add to the list of winners.

  15. Marcos Ambrose looks to salvage lost season in V8 Supercars, has had no issues ‘moving on’ from NASCAR

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EDT

    marcos ambrose 2015 Getty Images

    Even though it has been pretty much of a lost season for him in Australia’s V8 Supercars series, Marcos Ambrose believes he can still find some success before the racing year is over.

  16. Fast Facts: Honda Indy 200

    Jul 28, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Honda Indy 200, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  17. NHRA: Big changes coming to Pro Stock this weekend, next season

    Jul 28, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    pro stock bandimere 2015 getty Getty Images

    To paraphrase Mark Twain, rumors of the demise of NHRA’s Pro Stock class have been greatly exaggerated.