Daniel Ricciardo's career torched in staggering swipe from F1 great Jacques Villeneuve

The Canadian says Ricciardo's career has more to do with his image than driving ability.

Pictured right to left, former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve and Daniel Ricciardo.
Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has taken a stunning swipe at Daniel Ricciardo's career in the sport. Pic: Getty

Canadian Formula One legend Jacques Villeneuve has taken an extraordinary swipe at Daniel Ricciardo after claiming the Aussie's long career in F1 has more to do with his image than driving ability. Ricciardo is gearing up for his 14th season in F1, having won back a seat at Red Bull's sister team AlphaTauri in 2023.

The team has been rebranded as Visa Cash App RB in 2024, with Ricciardo once again partnering Yuki Tsunoda. The Aussie showed some promising signs after returning to the F1 grid in 2023 and in testing ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, coming in fourth fastest on the first day of testing and fifth on day two.

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Ricciardo will no doubt be hoping his displays in 2024 will impress Mercedes bosses enough to win a seat at the team in 2025, following the departure of Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time world champion announced he leave for Ferrari at the end of the upcoming season, leaving Ricciardo in a battle with several others drivers to try and jag a seat with the Silver Arrows.

Speaking ahead of Thursday night's (AEDT) first practice for the Bahrain GP, Villeneuve has dismissed Ricciardo's chances of earning a spot at Mercedes, or indeed being promoted into a seat at Red Bull. Villeneuve is a former F1 world champion and won 11 grands prix across a glittering career, but thinks Ricciardo's long career in the sport has more to do with his image and social media profile, than actual race results.

“Ricciardo is a pure product of image and modern social media,” the Canadian said in a bizarre attack on the Aussie driver. “You can’t base his long career on results. You just can’t. They don’t stack up. It is amazing. He can thank Netflix and all that kind of stuff. His smile, his attitude in the paddock in front of the camera.

“Ultimately even against Tsunoda he doesn’t do brilliantly. But he brings value to F1 and that’s why he is there. There are many drivers who are as quick as him but don’t have his image. So, you might as well take the one with the image.”

Seen here, Daniel Ricciardo in Bahrain for F1 testing.
Daniel Ricciardo impressed in Bahrain testing ahead of the new Formula One season. Pic: Getty

Villeneuve is certainly not wrong about Ricciardo's value to the sport, with the Aussie's personality making him one of the most popular and marketable drivers in F1. The Canadian's brutal assessment of Ricciardo's driving ability appears harsh though, despite the fact the Aussie was sacked at former team McLaren and replaced by compatriot, Oscar Piastri.

Daniel Ricciardo in battle to win seat at Red Bull

Ricciardo can still lay claim to the honourable distinction of being the only driver to get the better of three-time world champion Max Verstappen over the course of a full season in a Red Bull car. The Aussie raced alongside Verstappen at Red Bull between 2014-18 and will be hoping to link up with his former teammate again when Sergio Perez departs at the end of the season.

The Aussie admits his teammate Tsunoda is among those competing against him for a potential seat at Red Bull next year but it merely provides both drivers with added motivation in 2024. “I think it’s good to have that as a goal for both of us, it’s natural,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s nice for it to be somewhere towards the back of our head. But I think on a positive, that will bring out the best competitors in us and hopefully drive each other a little bit further. But am I lining up on the grid, thinking about ‘Oh, if I have a good race, I’m going to be in that seat’? No. It’s there as a goal. But it’s not there as my focus.”

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