“Michael Was the First…” – Villeneuve Believes Schumacher’s Off-Color Habit Is Responsible for Modern Day F1 Crashes

Published 09/14/2021, 9:45 AM EDT
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – APRIL 04: Former Ferrari Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher of Germany is seen on the Ferrari pitwall before qualifying for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on April 4, 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)


During his F1 career, Michael Schumacher forged a legacy like no other. With seven world championships and 91 race wins, the German set the standard every young driver looks to achieve. However, not all aspects of his skill set come across as appealing.

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On more occasions than one, Schumacher took risks which resulted in crashes. In fact, the 1997 season saw a different side of Schumacher in the title fight between him and Jacques Villeneuve. In a recent interview, the Canadian admitted how his German rival had a hand to play in racing today.

Jacques Villeneuve believes crashes today stem from the racing days of Michael Schumacher

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The 1997 F1 season witnessed one of the most intense title fights. Throughout the year, Schumacher and Villeneuve engaged in a feisty battle. Heading into the season-ending European Grand Prix, Villeneuve trailed Schumacher by just a single point. During the race in Jerez, a shocking incident unfolded on Lap 22.

As Villeneuve looked to take the race lead, Schumacher crashed his Ferrari into the Canadian’s car. While Villeneuve managed to finish third and become the world champion, the FIA stripped Schumacher’s second-place in the championship. They did so because they believed the German intentionally crashed into Villeneuve.

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN: Michael Schumacher of Germany and team Ferrari visits Formula 1 testing on March 3, 2009 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Andy Hone/Getty Images)

Speaking to Corriere Della Sera, the Canadian was asked about his run-ins with the seven-time world champion. He believed the German’s misconduct was an introduction to the crashes that occur in the sport today. He said, “Michael was the first to do certain misconduct, then many followed him. Now everyone is doing it and it is becoming very dangerous.” (Quotes translated from Google)

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While mentioning his experiences racing against Schumacher, the 50-year-old also spoke about the ongoing season. With the rivalry between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen escalating after the Italian Grand Prix, Villeneuve believes they shouldn’t take their foot off the gas.

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 12, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in action with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during the race REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

He said, “It’s a fight, they’re gladiators and they’re not too aggressive. They just want to stand in front of each other. They do not turn around and we do not even see certain bad things as in the past.”

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With eight races to go in the season, the battle looks set to go down to the wire. What does the next race in Sochi have in store? Only time will tell.

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Sanket Nair

616 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management graduate, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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