Jacques Villeneuve has hit out at Mercedes’ new recruit Valtteri Bottas, labelling his performance in the 2017 Formula 1 season as “embarrassing”.
Bottas was drafted in by Mercedes following Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement from F1 at the end of last season.
The Finn started the season on the right foot, scoring victories in Russia and Austria to put himself in contention for the championship. However, his results nosedived after the summer break as Lewis Hamilton emerged as the clear number 1 driver at Mercedes.
1997 F1 champion Villeneuve, who is infamous for his outspokenness, feels the German manufacturer should have given its protege Pascal Wehrlein a chance, instead of poaching Bottas from Williams.
“Valtteri Bottas` performance was almost embarrassing. He is a solid number two driver, nothing more. I would have chosen Wehrlein,” he told Germany’s Auto Bild.
Villeneuve was also somewhat critical of Hamilton, highlighting the Englishman’s comparatively poor showing in the first half of the season.
“In the end, Mercedes won the title because they still had the best engine,” he said. “Especially in qualifying, where they were able to produce extra horsepower, which makes the difference between the first and second row in the end.
“Only Lewis Hamilton, however, was able to harness the strengths of the car. He faltered in the first half of the season, but Vettel woke him up.”
by Rachit Thukral