Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve believes that reigning Champion Sebastian Vettel should leave Red Bull after the 2014 season, with the 43-year-old Canadian insisting that the Austrian outfit are beginning to favour Daniel Ricciardo. After only eight races, Vettel currently sits fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, 105 points behind Nico Rosberg at the top.
Since joining Red Bull for the 2009 season, Vettel has comfortably secured at least one victory after four races each year on his way to four successive World Drivers’ Championships with the Austrian outfit. However, the 2014 season has been a monumental turning point in the German’s dominance of the sport, with team-mate Ricciardo clearly managing to out-qualify and out-race him on more than one occasion, which has enabled the Australian ace to already secure one race victory and sit third in the Drivers’ Championship with a clear 23 points between himself and his vastly more experienced team-mate.
After enduring yet another miserable race weekend in Austria, where Vettel qualified a lowly 12th and then withdrew from proceedings on lap 34 after incurring mechanical gremlins early on, Villeneuve firmly believes the 26-year-old’s time at Red Bull is over and that he should move away from the Milton Keynes-based outfit. Although Mercedes is looking set to continue with their extremely dominant duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton next season, Villeneuve firmly believes that Ferrari could be a likely opportunity for the reigning Champion with Fernando Alonso potentially set to leave the Scuderia after several years of relatively unsuccessful results.
“He’s a four-time World Champion who has earned the titles won, but now Red Bull Racing is treating him like they were to Mark Webber,” explained Villeneuve in an interview with OmniCorse.it. “They seem to have decided to focus only on Daniel Ricciardo. Now they want to “kill” Sebastian [Vettel] because the German is not able to give another image of Red Bull. Of course, he cannot stand one more season. Helmut Marko has now also started to criticise him. When you lose control of the team and the policy begins to have an ever-increasing weight, you’re finished. Vettel is finished there, he needs to change team.
“Who said that the door is closed at Ferrari? I think that Fernando [Alonso] is tired of working for nothing. And it shows that he no longer had the joy of driving up to two years ago. He carried the team on his shoulders, while last year he gave up. He no longer has the strength to drag the team alone. I think that next year we will see a Ferrari in recovery and if Fernando will have the patience to wait he will derive the benefits, otherwise…”
Jacques Villeneuve also spoke out against Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, stating that the former World Champion should go home if he continues to struggle with the handling of the new breed of F1 cars. Despite entering the new season as a potential dark horse in the eyes of some within the paddock, Raikkonen has so far only managed to score 19 points in comparison to team-mate Fernando Alonso who has 60 more points after scoring at every race so far this season. In Villeneuve’s opinion Raikkonen cannot drive with finesse, which is the major factor in his current inability to adapt to the new breed of F1 cars.
“Kimi does not know how to drive with finesse,” continued Villeneuve in his interview with OmniCorse.it. “For him, the gas is either fully on or nothing. This year he has had a lot of spins as if he was still in Formula 3. If he cannot get the job done in F1, he should go home. He is a very experienced driver and should not be making excuses at every race as if he was a young rookie. You should only need two or three races to change the way you drive and adapt and if he cannot, it means there is a problem. You cannot go on like this and keep making excuses when you are a World Champion.”
Whether Vettel does “fly the nest” and move to another team next season remains to be seen, with the German essentially still tied down to a contract with the Austrian outfit until the end of 2015. However, it is crystal clear that the Heppenheim-born driver’s dominance in Formula One has been brought to a sudden end, with even the possibility of securing a race victory this season looking bleak. With Ferrari still clearly struggling with issues of their own this season, a move to the Scuderia would certainly not result in an immediate resurgence for the four-time Champion.
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