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 Wednesday, 15 January, 2003, 11:08 GMT
Does Button deserve more respect?
Is Villeneuve overshadowed by Button in the image stakes?
BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve says team-mate Jenson Button is better-known for his 'boy band' appeal than his driving.

Is Villeneuve right, or do you back Button?


Former world champion Villeneuve struck a nerve with Britain's 'golden boy' of racing by saying Button would only win his respect by improving his racing performances.

He went on to suggest that Button's main appeal was as a marketing tool for BAR, claiming that he "brings to the sport what boy bands bring to music".

Button attempted to rise above the scathing remarks, saying "I am not here to earn Jacques' respect - I am here to win and move the team forward".

Does Jacques have a point - or will Jenson make him eat his words?


This debate is now closed, please see below for a selection of your emails


Villeneuve should take a look in the mirror before he makes such comments!
David Perfrement, Britain

Jacques is quite right in what he says. It is now up to Jenson to prove his ability against a top flight driver. To survive in F1 you have to take pressure like this and give your response out on the track.

JV is better known for his insulting comments than for his driving

Jason Crawford, USA

If he does this, Jacques will automatically accept him, as he did Olivier Panis. It does F1 no harm at all for drivers to comment like Jacques - at least it starts some healthy debates.
Alan Jenks, United Kingdom

He may be right, but JV is better known for his insulting comments than for his driving, so what's his point? I never see him in the news because he's winning races. Both he and Eddie Irvine are yesterday's news and they try to make up for it by having an attitude.

It's makes me wonder why Mike Schumacher is so criticized. If Schumacher said half of the things these guys said about other drivers the whole of England would be in uproar!
Jason Crawford, USA

Jenson Button could do better to learn from his team-mate who holds former world championship status and increase his profile as a driver through consistent delivery of results, and not by sounding off like a spoiled child!
Jamie Pearse, Scotland

Although it's less than gentlemanly for Villeneuve to publicly abuse Jenson, I can see the logic in his view - what has Button proven? There's no doubt he's very marketable.

Jacques has confidence that he can beat Jenson on the track. His fighting words are so everyone pays attention when he does.
Clarence, Australia

The usual hot air from Villeneuve - he should leave the mind games and concern himself with his on-track performance. I hope for his recent raft of silly comments Button beats him - and then he will have a reason to throw his toys out of the pram!
Toby Isbister, England

Jenson got a raw deal after his first year in F1

Terry F. Rock, US

I like Jacques, but I don't think promoting disharmony is the way to start a new season, and certainly not a new team-mate, who's had nothing but high praise for him...(if in fact he said that).

To be honest, I think Jenson got a raw deal after his first year in F1. We all knew there would be no place after his first season because of the JPM contract. He got sent 'packing', even though he showed great potential.

Remember, he's very young and hadn't had a whole lot of racing prior...I think he doesn't have anything to prove to anyone but Jenson Button and "the powers that be" at BAR. I think he's done as well as could be expected with bad equipment for the past season.
Terry F. Rock, United States

Yes, JV is correct. Button was simply media hype. It is indeed sad that JV was unable to get a better team and a better car and this gave Schumi a chance to run away with all these titles since 1998.

I am sure if JV was in a comparable car to that of Schumi these two drivers should have divided the wins almost in half. Too bad for the sport. No wonder F1 is losing steam.

Anyone in Schumi's car can win F1 championship. If Honda can not give JV a better car this season, JV must move to Ferrari to challenge Schumi and save F1 from going under.
Yunus Abdul, USA

He WAS a world champion, but hasn't produced anything near that for many years. This is a make or break year for him in F1 (and BAR), you would think that he would be working with his new team mate on trying to achieve a successful year and not trying to psych him out before the season starts. Boring drivel from an ex-champ is not what we want to hear.
Helen, USA

Each year Villeneuve's realised that his car wouldn't satisfy his ego. It appears he has satisfied his ego with mind games on his team mate, and flashes of his former ability during parts of a race.
Cliff Webb, U.K.

JV fears any driver who is in competition with him and plays these mind games to get the edge. Just concentrate Jenson and lose the Canadian in your dust.
A.Lloyd, U.K.

Jacques comments will please the media machine, F1 needs some excitement, but for me it just lowers my estimation of him as a person. Jenson is a likeable guy but has been inconsistent in his three years in F1. This year could be the making or the breaking of him. I really hope its the making.
Steve, UK

Villeneuve is one of the three best drivers in F1 right now, and will destroy Button every race. Villeneuve has consistently out raced his team mate every year, except 1996 when Hill edged him out. If BAR ever lived up to their end of the deal, Villeneuve would win races, often.
Shaun, Canada

Jenson is a pretty boy who will be exposed for what he is, a mediocre driver

Paul, Canada

I have a huge amount of respect for Jenson and recognise what he has achieved so early in his F1 career. I also had a lot of respect for Jacques, but it is a real shame that Jacques sees fit to have a go at Jenson so early in their partnership. I support Jenson all the way and hope that despite Jacques comments, Jenson will go on to be a truly great racing driver.
Don Spencer, Indonesia

I don't know how any sporting man can start a new season by basically insulting his own team and expect people to respect him for it.
Jim, England

JV is absolutely correct. Jenson is a pretty boy who will be exposed for what he is, a mediocre driver. What has Jenson done over his three years of F1 to conclude that he is a World Champion in the making? Please people give yourselves a shake.
Paul, Canada

I hardly think that earning big bucks for nil results gives Villeneuve the right to criticise anyone but himself. Obviously a very worried man. Worried that he will be shown up as not being anywhere near as good and professional as his father was.
Alan Hancock, England

Jacques is wrong in undermining the talents of his team mate, even if Button has not done anything till now to prove the contrary
Advait Valame, India

Jenson is right - they should be working together and not be petty.

Jim, UK

Let's see how good Villeneuve is at the start of the next season. He may regret his statement. As the saying goes, people in glass houses should not throw stones.
David Wright, UK

Both haven't accomplished too much after their initial seasons, so it would be better for both of them to stop acting like prima donnas and start getting results.
Sanjay, India

Could JV be concerned that this is his last year in F1 if Jenson outperforms him? Jenson is right - they should be working together and not be petty.
Jim, UK

I don't think Villeneuve is in a position to criticise anyone. After all what has he done in the last few years since 1997. It seems like he is shaping himself up to be the next Eddie Irvine, all mouth and no action. If he really wants to show up Jenson, the best thing he can do is beat him on the track!
Richard, Scotland

Button needs to prove he is deserving of the praise lavished upon him. So far he has show all too brief flashes of brilliance, but if he doesn't buck his ideas up he could be out where he belongs.
Liam LeFoy, UK

We'll be watching to see who puts his money where his mouth is

Hiten, USA

What is it with Villeneuve? Yes he has won races, yes he has won "a" championship, but since joining BAR he's done very little. Could he be worried that he may have to start to earn his enormous salary
David, London

What a shame! Such comments will have Villeneuve's father (Gilles) spinning in his grave. Gilles was a master of integrity and fair play in his day, as well as letting his driving do the talking. It is such a shame that Jacques does not follow his father's example.
Andrew Waite, United Kingdom

Hopefully the pair will complement each other and put BAR on the map.
Peter, USA

Of course, Schumacher used to use the same tactic against Damon Hill - the only driver who was a threat to his results. Button should regard Villeneuve's comments as a (backhanded) compliment.
Morgan Rees, U.K.

March 09, 2003. We'll be watching to see who puts his money where his mouth is.
Hiten, USA

I think it's extraordinary that anyone should be taking too much notice. Villeneuve is a master of sporting psychology, and has usually successfully undermined his team-mates with unfavourable public comment.

Villeneuve's comments were right on the money

Craig Kennedy, UK

The shame is that Button is even bothering to respond. He's had fair warning from the moment he signed that this is what Jacques would do. He'd be much better off ignoring it.
Steve Philipps, Hertfordshire, UK

I have to agree with Villeneuve. Button has shown some of his talent but doesn't seem fully focused on the whole championship. However, I think if Button was to drive for a top team it would settle the argument once and for all.
Euan Granger, Scotland

Villeneuve's comments were right on the money. Button is young, inexperienced and slow. His form is inconsistent, and largely dictated by luck. Villeneuve is a real racer, and will blow Button away all year.

That having been said, it's not good for the team's image to have its drivers slagging each other off as the new car is launched.
Craig Kennedy, UK

Does Villeneuve see some of himself in Button? Both drivers performed with a decent car under them (Williams), then moved to teams that just could not compete. Or is it just to attract attention to the new look BAR?
Matt, UK

Sorry, but where was Villeneuve in the Drivers' Championship last season?
Minna O'Connor, UK

If Jenson Button keeps having to drive for the middle teams then he will never be able to realise the promise that he showed in his first season at Williams. He is a talented driver who needs a decent drive. If David Richards delivers what he's promised, maybe this year will be better for him.

Button has done nothing to prove that he belongs in the sport

Paul, England

Villeneuve knows that this is likely to be his last season, and has done nothing since winning the championship in 1997. Unless of course he fancies paying for a seat next season, and lets face it he should be able to afford it. He's just jealous because he's past it, and not getting offered the drives he thinks he deserves.

I hope that Jenson doesn't allow himself to be dragged down to the same level as Villeneuve with a public slanging match. And as for comparing Button with Irvine - get real!
Karen, Wilts, England

However, when Formula One is in the state it's in right now, I don't blame the kid for sitting back and enjoying the time of his life. Next year, if you aren't in a Ferrari, forget it (not that I'll be watching it)!
Paul, England

Perhaps both of them, like most of the Formula One field, need to rediscover the point of racing: trying to win. They both seem content to finish mid-field and collect their money.
Iain, Germany, ex-UK

I think Villeneuve is right, Button showed some promise at first but has let the money and fame go to his head. He is turning into a carbon copy of Eddie Irvine and instead needs to concentrate on become the best driver he can be. It is no coincidence that all his teams have been eager to get rid of him even though he has mostly out-performed his team mates.
Chris Barnard, UK

I think that Jacques comments have some substance

Gavi Griffiths, Wales
Who cares? Both drivers will receive their usual trouncing week-in, week-out next season!
Dougal McKinnon, UK

How much respect for Villeneuve should we have given his performance over the last few seasons? I hope that BAR get their act together this season, and both drivers make their mark on the track rather than the gossip columns.
Alex McFadyen, UK

If nothing else, Villeneuve's comments are crass and insulting. Unless he is trying to prickle Button into racing harder; this however is unlikely given big-mouth Vill's past record. I hope Jensen shoves those words right down Villeneuve's overpaid throat.
Jeremy Griffiths, Manchester, UK

Jensen doesn't have to prove himself to anyone, is Villeneuve frightened of a bit of competition, and if mud slinging is the order of the day, what has he done since 1997?
Sonia West, England

I think Jacques is nothing more than a big hot air bag that needs to be popped! With a decent car I am sure Button will drop kick him into touch.
Rodney, South Africa

I think that Jacques comments have some substance as Jenson has not yet gained many points. Results count but so does image and that's where sponsorship is the life blood to this sport. If he brings a new image that will be reflected in the teams following and sponsorship and brand awareness that's what it's all about, so watch out Jacques you may no longer be the "wild rocker of Formula 1" any more.
Gavi Griffiths, Wales

I think it's crunch time for the BAR team

Ollie, UK
The BAR team has always had a big mouth, so it really comes as no surprise. I think it's crunch time for the BAR team. Button might get another seat if he survives this season but even if Villeneuve gets a podium this year it will be his last. Its sad words from a desperate man.
Ollie, UK

This is only the latest piece of pathetic diatribe to come from the Canadian's lips. The obvious conclusion is that he must feel under pressure.
Peter Harris, UK

Villeneuve's comments are those of a man who knows that even if he wins the World Championship by July, he will be out the door at the end of the season. It may even be sooner with Honda favourite Sato waiting in the wings
Daran Brookes, UK

No one respects Schumacher for his sense of humour or his dress sense. Button has to earn respect on the track like all drivers, until he does this, Villeneuve is right.
Charlie, France

They are both giving it banter which can only be good for Formula One.
Mike, England

This year will prove the undoing of Jenson Button, he will be exposed for what he really is, a mediocre racing driver; Villeneuve will show him up in every race.

If he can't win against Villeneuve he can kiss his hope of becoming a world champion goodbye. Let's hope this year's racing is more interesting??
Khalid Aziz, England

I agree with Button! As these older drivers are getting scared at this new talent. They think they can harp on about how good they use to be! Well, you didn't stay good, did you! Shows you were just lucky in the past, but then it ran out. So Villeneuve, don't be scared of Jenson. Although he will out-race you in every race!
Stuart, UK

So far Button really hasn't done anything in Formula One, yet he acts as though he's done it all. He is a second-rate driver, who does need to prove he can deliver the goods.
Dominic Hopson, United Kingdom

See also:

15 Jan 03 | Formula One
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