Daniel Ricciardo is making his return this weekend as a full-time driver behind the wheel of an F1 car. After two difficult years at McLaren, the Australian replaces a struggling Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri for the first 10 Grand Prix races in 2023.
However, not everyone is thrilled about Ricciardo’s comeback, including Jacques Villeneuve, who cannot understand how Ricciardo managed to secure a full-time seat after his challenging seasons.
“He took several months to recharge himself,” began Jacques Villeneuve, commenting on Canal+ during the Free Practice 1 of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“He did some behind-the-scenes political work with [Helmut Marko] that [Nyck de Vries] did not see coming, bravo.”
Villeneuve Believes Ricciardo’s Return is Unjustified
After praising Ricciardo for his “political work” with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko, Jacques Villeneuve did not hold back his criticism of the new AlphaTauri driver.
“On the other hand, it’s impressive that for a return to Formula 1, a big smile and some Instagram posts are enough to drive these magnificent cars, it’s incredible,” Villeneuve stated.
While the Canadian agreed with his colleague, Julien Fébreau, that “it’s not the only thing that was enough,” the 1997 F1 world champion continued by taking one final jab at Daniel Ricciardo.
“No driver after four pitiful seasons has earned the right to come back to Formula 1,” Jacques Villeneuve concluded.