Jacques Villeneuve’s former race engineer Jock Clear believes the 1997 F1 world champion’s achievement in Method 1 as a driver are underestimated.
Villeneuve made a spectacular entry into the game in 1996 with Williams, profitable 4 races and ending runner-up to teammate Damon Hill within the championship that 12 months.
However the Canadian went one higher in 1997, snatching the world title on the final spherical after a dramatic showdown with Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher.
However Villeneuve left Williams on the finish of 1998 to pledge his allegiance to BAR, an outfit arrange by Villeneuve’s good buddy Craig Pollock on the muse of the previous Tyrrell workforce.
However good outcomes have been few and much between for the son of the good Gilles Villeneuve whose F1 profession regularly pale earlier than it grounded to a halt with BMW Sauber within the second half of the 2006 season.
From the outset, Villeneuve and Clear shaped a robust partnership at Williams, and the British engineer gladly adopted his protégé to BAR afterward.
In hindsight, Clear believes that Villeneuve’s accomplishments and the Canadian’s legacy are under-appreciated within the grand scheme of issues.
“I don’t wish to over-defend Jacques in a sycophantic method, however I believe folks do underestimate what he achieved as a driver,” mentioned Clear on a latest episode of F1’s Past The Grid podcast
“As a result of there’s nonetheless tons of people that say: ‘Sure, however he wasn’t actually a worthy world champion’. However you suppose, given he gained IndyCar and he gained the Indy 500 and he came visiting and completely annihilated his workforce mates in a robust automotive, however then after all he had alternatives… to go to Benetton, he had alternatives to go to McLaren…
“Folks will say he wasted the remainder of his profession. Properly, that [BAR] is now the workforce that’s dominating F1 so he can in all probability sleep effectively at evening understanding that he began the workforce that’s presently dominating F1.”
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Recalling Villeneuve’s day of glory at Jerez in 1997 – when a tussle between the Williams driver and Schumacher with 22 laps to go within the European Grand Prix led to a conflict between the 2 drivers and to the German driver’s demise – Clear recalled how he and Villeneuve approached the day armed with a rock stable confidence.
“I bear in mind throwing again the sheets and saying ‘let’s go and win the world championship’, and I do know that Jacques would have mentioned the identical,” mentioned the Ferrari engineer and driver coach. “He didn’t present any nerves. I believe he was very ready for that day.”
However Villeneuve’s psyche wasn’t at all times so tightly sealed, and Clear remembers coping with some mid-season “bizarre” moments sparked by his driver’s frustrations.
“I believe that may be my solely concern, is that he began to develop some conspiracy theories in the midst of the 12 months and I believe that was simply borne of frustration,” defined Clear.
“I believe he was simply annoyed that there had been a couple of – I imply, Magny-Cours [where he finished P4] for instance was a horrible race, he was simply horrible.
“I believe as a character he has a lot self-worth that places him in good stead in just about a lot of the conditions that he’s been in as a racing driver.
“However the draw back of that’s that it did imply he would give you some fairly bizarre concepts about why issues weren’t going proper for him.
“And you then’d must say: ‘perhaps you simply drove a s*** race, Jacques, have you ever thought-about that one?’.”
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