Former world champions Jacques Villeneuve and Mika Hakkinen disagree about Sebastian Vettel attempt to overtake Max Verstappen in the early stages of the 2018 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. Some think the Ferrari driver collided with Max Verstappen at exactly the wrong moment, as it might now be seen as the final nail in the coffin of his title assault.
But others think the German needed to take the risk in a full-on attack to close up on Lewis Hamilton. For example 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who hit out at Vettel: “He was too far behind when he overtook. Max couldn’t just say ‘Please go past me’. Vettel tried something and didn’t play dirty, but it was too risky,” he told Sky Italia – “He could write a book about his season called ‘How to lose a world championship’,” Villeneuve added – “The key difference between him and Hamilton this year is that Lewis first thinks about the situation before making an aggressive attack.”
1998 and 1999 champion Hakkinen, however, thinks Sebastian Vettel really did need to take that high risk: “In his position he had to try everything to maximise his result,” the Finn told Bild. “He knew how much stronger the Mercedes is. Without going full attack, he wins nothing. Yes he risked a lot, but that’s just part of the game in Formula One.”
No matter the right or wrong, Jacques Villeneuve says Suzuka means that Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari’s titles hopes are definitely now over: “Already at the last race we could see that he has accepted he cannot win,” said the French Canadian – “You can see that he is more relaxed already.”
As for Ferrari’s mistakes and dwindling performance, Villeneuve admits to being left scratching his head: “It’s not easy to understand Ferrari, and not just because they lost some races. After some mistakes they never returned to the right path and that’s impossible to understand from the outside,” – the former world champion concluded.