Jacques Villeneuve launches attack on Daniel Ricciardo and his place on the F1 grid

Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve took a flamethrower to Daniel Ricciardo.

The 1997 champion handed the Aussie both barrels in a stinging defeat of his place at the net.

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Ricciardo’s place on the grid has been in focus since he returned midway through the 2023 season.

But on Saturday, Villeneuve, 53, didn’t bite his tongue as he unleashed a brutal reality check for the eight-time grand prix winner.

“Why is he still in F1? Why?” Villeneuve told Sky Sports on Friday.

“We’ve been listening to the same things for the last four or five years. “We have to make the car better for him.” Sorry, it’s been five years. No, you’re in F1.

“Maybe you do that for Lewis Hamilton, who has won multiple championships. You don’t make an effort for a driver who can’t do it.

“If you can’t make it, go home, someone else will take your place. It’s always been like that in racing, it’s the pinnacle of sport.

“There’s no reason to go on and make excuses and you all talk about that first season or the first two seasons that he beat Vettel, who was burnt out, who was trying to invent things with the race car to win and just make a mess of his weekends.

“Then he beat Verstappen for half a season, when Verstappen was 18, he just started, that was it, then he stopped beating anybody.

“I think his image kept him in F1 more than his actual results.”

The attack comes days after Ricciardo’s dreams of returning to Red Bull were dashed after the team extended Sergio Perez’s contract for a further two years.

It was a major blow for the 34-year-old Australian, who was hoping to claw his way back into the seat he vacated in 2019 when he left for Renault.

After two years at Renault and another two at McLaren, Ricciardo was hoping to break back into the first team with partner Max Verstappen and has been pushing for the Mexican in 2023.

But while Perez hasn’t set the world on fire and is currently fifth in the 2024 drivers’ championship, his four podiums in eight races ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix weekend were enough to convince Red Bull to keep him for another two years .

It’s a bitter pill to swallow for Ricciardo, who is six months older than Perez and faces a battle to even keep his seat in his Visa Cash App RB team after a dreadful season.

But Ricciardo, ever the optimist, does not believe his try at Red Bull’s top team is over.

“It doesn’t surprise me and it doesn’t change anything for me,” Ricciardo told Sky F1 of Perez’s new deal.

“Obviously my goal is that I would like to get back there at some point [at Red Bull]. But I also know that my season was not spectacular. I think I had a spectacular moment in Miami, but otherwise I was a bit up and down.

“And look, I’ve been doing this long enough, I know I want to be better.

“I think after the first couple of races I was really focused on trying to do the best I can here. And in doing so, I may have the most control over my future.

“So, until now, yeah, I probably haven’t been awesome enough, but I’m also happy to be here and to be back in the Red Bull family.

“So we’re going to continue to charge, and yeah, I don’t think that now means it’s never going to happen. But we will see.”

The Canadian Grand Prix begins at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Monday morning at 4:00 a.m. ET.

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