Formula 1: Jacques Villeneuve is still living in an alternate universe

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 12: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 overtakes Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on May 12, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 12: Charles Leclerc of Monaco driving the (16) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 overtakes Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF90 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on May 12, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) /

Jacques Villeneuve’s crazy obsession with bashing Charles Leclerc has continued into the offseason between the 2019 and 2020 Formula 1 seasons.

In reality, Charles Leclerc became the first driver to defeat four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel during Vettel’s tenure at Ferrari, which began in the 2015 season, and he did it in his first season driving for the Italian team and just his second season competing in Formula 1.

He did it with a series-high seven pole positions and the first two victories of his career. He ultimately placed fourth in the driver standings with 264 points, 24 points clear of Vettel in fifth with 240. Vettel took two pole positions and won one race, both his lowest marks since 2016 when he neither took a pole position nor won a race.

Most notably, Leclerc delivered the Tifosi their first victory on home soil at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix since 2010.

But Jacques Villeneuve is not living in such a reality.

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Instead, here he sits — obsessed, haunted, consumed and plagued by the fact that Leclerc is everything everyone thought he was.

That is, everyone except himself.

And he still can’t let it go.

Before Ferrari even confirmed the 22-year-old Monegasque as Kimi Raikkonen’s replacement for the 2019 season, there was speculation that the team would confirm this switch. As a result, Villeneuve proceeded to make a statement that now looks almost comical, stating that Vettel would make Leclerc cry.

Here is what he had to say, according to Formula 1.

"“Put a young ‘cub’ next to Vettel and what will Vettel do? He’ll try to eat him alive. Either he will destroy the young cub or it will end in tears and the whole team will end up going slower within two years. That’s not constructive.”"

His criticism continued throughout the 2019 season, despite the fact that Leclerc was Ferrari’s overall better driver, and by a clear margin; 24 points doesn’t do it justice.

Leclerc did have several solid results, including two wins, get away from him. But the difference is that Leclerc was robbed by circumstances out of his control, such as an engine failure in Bahrain and a poor tire strategy in Austria that cost him victory on both occasions — two occasions that would have marked his first victory.

Sure, he made mistakes from time to time, crashing in qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, for instance. But compared to Vettel and the mistakes he made, Leclerc was practically perfect.

Vettel got himself into a whole lot of trouble. He spun in the Bahrain Grand Prix, costing himself a podium finish, if not a victory, he caved under pressure in the Canadian Grand Prix before he was penalized for reentering the track in an unsafe manner, he wrecked Max Verstappen in the British Grand Prix, he spun out in the Italian Grand Prix and again reentered the track in an unsafe matter, putting himself at risk of a suspension, and worst of all, he flat-out wrecked Leclerc in the Brazilian Grand Prix by simply driving into him.

Yet based on Villeneuve’s “totally unbiased” assessment of the situation, you’d think it was Leclerc who almost received a one-race ban for causing bizarre incident after bizarre incident.

Here is what Villeneuve had to say, according to Dutch publication Formule 1.

"“Ferrari never said to Leclerc: ‘It’s your first year with us, your second year in F1. Relax, learn from Vettel.’ Then the team would have moved further forward than now. Instead, from the first race, Leclerc has had the attitude of ‘I’m going to show that I’m the boss and that Vettel is past. I am the future.“So this whole situation has damaged Ferrari. I don’t know what Mattia Binotto could do about that. I do not know the agreements, in the days of [Eddie] Irvine and [Rubens] Barrichello this was simply established. How does this work? Who will say?”"

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You really have to wonder what he’s talking about.

I’ve said it before, and nothing has changed. Do the math. Calculate how many points Vettel would have scored in 2017 and 2018 had he not made silly errors, and calculate how many points Lewis Hamilton would not have scored had he not made these errors.

Vettel didn’t just suddenly start making mistakes upon Leclerc’s arrival. The 32-year-old German would have entered the 2019 season as a six-time champion, and Hamilton would have just been crowned a four-time champion.

Instead, Hamilton has won three consecutive titles and is a six-time champion who has won five titles since Vettel last won one in 2013 driving for Red Bull Racing.

Additionally, Mercedes were stronger than Ferrari in 2019. That was obvious. Team principal Mattia Binotto realizes this; here is what he had to say about the matter, according to Motorsport.

"“I think we lost this last year when designing that car. Because at the end, we’ve not been competitive at the start of the season. And there are reasons for it. So at the end I think it is the car project that was not good enough to start with. Showing our development rate [over the season], generally speaking our design was not as good as our main competitor. So I think that’s it.”"

The idea that Leclerc came along and damaged Ferrari is a joke, and the fact that Villeneuve continues to push this ridiculous theory even after being proven wrong time and time again makes it all the more hilarious.

To quote Hamilton from a separate situation regarding a bizarre Villeneuve statement about dangerous driving in response to the death of Anthoine Hubert, “I don’t really agree with a lot of the opinions of that individual and I don’t know if anyone [does]. I personally don’t listen to that individual’s opinion.”

No one does, Lewis. No one does.

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Can Charles Leclerc keep it up and continue to prove Jacques Villeneuve wrong about him by beating Sebastian Vettel again in the 2020 Formula 1 season? Perhaps more importantly, can Ferrari step it up and field a championship-caliber car to end their title drought?