Jacques Villeneuve said his rivals would have been "a bunch of cissies" if they had refused to take part in Friday's qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Several drivers drew up a petition saying that qualifying should not be allowed to proceed in the torrential rain at Interlagos.
The session eventually went ahead after the rain eased up, but Villeneuve said it would have been an insult to fans if the drivers had not taken to the track.
"I never saw the petition and if I had I would not have signed it," said Villeneuve.
"What would it bring to Formula One for us not to go and qualify? People would think that we are just a bunch of cissies.
The drivers wanted to express concerns and show a united front about qualifying in the wet
"We can't do that. We are paid a whole lot of money and it would be an insult to the fans.
"Formula One has been hurting for the past couple of years and it's very important for us to give a show and go out there and drive.
"Sure, there is a little risk in those conditions, but not enough not to drive. If you think it is too dangerous then drive slowly."
McLaren's David Coulthard, who was one of the drivers behind the petition, said it was designed to make race director Charlie Whiting aware of their safety concerns.
"The drivers wanted to express concerns and show a united front about qualifying in the wet but that wasn't the case," said Coulthard.
The controversy came about because of a new rule restricting tyre suppliers Bridgestone and Michelin to just one type of wet-weather tyre per race.
Both opted to take intermediate tyres, which work well in damp conditions but give little grip in heavy rain.
Villeneuve, who was seventh fastest in qualifying, called the rule "extremely dangerous".
And despite his strong views on qualifying the 1997 world champion insisted that Sunday's race should not be allowed to take place in heavy rain.
"It is dangerous when you have a lot of cars on the track because a car could spin, stop in the middle of the racing line and you won't see it," he said.
"But one car at a time qualifying? The only danger is you might make a mistake, aquaplane and go off but the cars are built so you can go off and maybe hit a tyre barrier."