Jacques Villeneuve has not hung up his headphones: the Canadian and Canal + consultant intends to participate in the Daytona 500, which will be held next month; but first, he has to qualify (which he failed to do in 2008).
Off the track more than on it, Villeneuve always appears as a sports troublemaker, a little rebellious, a little stubborn; which in any case does not leave indifferent.
And as his former race engineer Jock Clear (now at Ferrari) confided to the « Beyond the Grid » podcast, Villeneuve’s reputation is not new: from his time at Williams, Villeneuve left no stone unturned. marble the cold Frank Williams and Patrick Head…
“I liked the fact that he was a bit rebellious. »
“You have to see that in the context of Williams. Williams was, and still is, a fantastic team, a team in the truest sense of the word. Everything about working at Williams, however, revolved around Frank [Williams] and patrick [Head]. »
Could Villeneuve’s character really suit the Grove team according to Clear?
“A lot of people say that Williams has never treated its drivers well. »
“I don’t think you’ll find a driver who won’t have a lot of complaints from their time at Williams. They will find occasions where they will say, ‘Oh yeah, Frank said that’, or, ‘Patrick used to do that’, or, ‘He had no respect for me’. »
« But actually, if you ask them, ‘Did you enjoy your time at Williams?’ Absolutely, they really enjoyed it. But it was all about Frank and Patrick. »
“So much so that the pilots were really oppressed at times. I wasn’t there when Alain Prost was there, and maybe it was very different with a driver of his caliber, but I was definitely there with Damon Hill, and he struggled to be heard at times. »
“Jacques arrived as a young boy with no real record, apart from winning Indy, which is quite a record but, in Europe, that doesn’t count. »
“Patrick had very little respect for the fact that he had won the Indy 500 and the IndyCar championship. »
« I don’t mean in areas where he shouldn’t be involved, just in what he needed when he was driving the car. « It’s like that », « I need that », « I could do with that ». We couldn’t hear it. »
In truth, the opposition between Villeneuve and Head seems to have been located on a precise point, which is an emblem of the difference in character between the two men: Clear relates that Villeneuve had considerably moved the pedals together in his cockpit, which had angered Head.
“Everything was eccentric. »
“These days, most riders have a throttle travel of 50 to 70 millimetres. It is therefore at the tip of the foot that you find yourself, at these 50 to 70 millimeters. The shortest I know is around 45 [millimètres]. »
“Jacques had chosen 22 millimeters! 22 millimeters is nothing. But if it’s longer than that, he’d say, No, that accelerator pedal is way too long. I can’t drive that! »
“Patrick said to himself: What is this idiot doing? Does he understand how a racing car works? But Jacques didn’t say anything about it, he replied « I don’t care what Patrick says ». »
But Clear concludes, Head’s esteem for Villeneuve was, at least at the time, real for his pilot.
“Don’t get me wrong, Patrick loved having Jacques on the team. »
“He will tell you now that Jacques was not a very good racing driver and that he even came close to ruining a championship with a very good car, but he doesn’t really mean it. »
« He enjoyed that dynamic, that’s for sure, because he likes to yell at people. And Jacques gave him a lot of reasons to scream! »