Jacques Villeneuve: Rallying and concerned about F1 in 2014

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The 1997 Formula One World Champion, Jacques Villeneuve, has never been short of candor, even as his active racing career has dwindled over the last few years.

He’s got the racing part back, announcing Thursday he will compete for the Scottish Albatec Racing team in the new World Rallycross Championship. This WRC is a different rally series from the FIA World Rally Championship (also WRC), and is also different than Red Bull Global Rallycross (GRC), which despite its name is a primarily U.S.-based series.

Villeneuve will race a 600 bhp Peugeot 208 in the championship that competes, like both the other WRC and GRC, on gravel and asphalt surfaces with a series of jumps.

Now that that confusing bit is out of the way, here’s the less confusing bit: Villeneuve doesn’t like the direction F1 is going.

“I don’t understand what they are trying to do. I don’t understand the concept,” he told Autosport at the time of his rally program reveal.

“Formula 1 is not epic anymore, the drivers are not heroes. The problem is that the changes are being made in an artificial way and that doesn’t work.”

He also said that when it gets “boring,” the rules tend to get, in his words, more “artificial.”

Villeneuve went through several iterations of F1 in his own career from 1996 through 2006.

His first two years saw some cockpit design changes, the elimination of V12 engines and the shift to car numbers based on the previous year’s Constructor’s Championship. In 1998, grooved tires were introduced, which added another element to the show.

The V10s omnipresent through 2005 before they took a final bow, as the then-new V8 powerplants were introduced that year.

We’re all waiting to see how the 2014 season shakes out before making any harsh judgments, but Villeneuve’s coming at it from a soundbite-worthy, “hope it doesn’t take a turn for the worse” mentality.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.