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Jacques Villeneuve

Villeneuve denies Red Bull dominance after Mercedes era: Why are we complaining?

Red Bull have looked to have a significant edge over their competitors so far in the 2023 F1 season, but are the team truly as dominant as others have been in past eras? Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Jacques Villeneuve has given his take on the situation.

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Jacques Villeneuve believes that Red Bull's curent level of dominance does not match that of Mercedes in the past.

The Milton Keynes-based squad have won every race so far in the 2023 F1 season, following on from claiming all but five victories in their championship-winning 2022 campaign.

However, Villeneuve believes that the team's dominant performance is not on the level of others before them.

Villeneuve: Red Bull cannot afford to make a mistake

"It's not as big as the Mercedes domination that used to be, so why are we complaining about it?" Villeneuve said in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com.

"It's not massive. They didn't get pole [at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix]. They're just working better.

"When you had the Mercedes domination, they could make mistakes and still win easily. Red Bull cannot afford to make a mistake. They win because they're better, the car's a little bit better.

"The driver works better with the engineers, there's no chaos, there's no politics. They all work in the same direction, so they end up winning.

"But if they make a mistake, they don't win. So it's not clear domination, they're just ever [so] slightly better. That gives them maybe a little bit of margin, but only if they work properly."

Can Ferrari pose a challenge?

In terms of whether Ferrari can pose a challenge to Red Bull in 2023, Villeneuve does not rate their prospects.

"People go [and] leave, it's chaos as always," the 1997 World Champion said of the Scuderia.

"They've been imploding for years. It seems to be a never-ending story. Normally, when you implode, there's a moment when you stop imploding.

"But it seems to keep going on."

New Sprint format

Red Bull's success continued through the newly-modified Sprint weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where a Sprint Shootout was introduced before the Sprint race took place later on Saturday.

The Sprint did not exist in Formula 1 when Villeneuve was racing, but the Canadian is a fan of the format.

"I think it's very good," he explained.

"As long as one race doesn't affect the other. The way we had it until now, that the Sprint race [set] the grid for the race, that meant that people wouldn't take a big risk in the Sprint race.

"It just made the main race a 400 kilometre race with a red flag after 100km, so it wasn't really a Sprint race anymore.

"But it made the weekend a little bit more relevant on each day, which was good because it's true that the Friday has become drivers going around, [doing] long runs [in Free Practice] because of the way the tyres are, so not that exciting.

"So the Sprint race concept is great, as a separate entity."

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Red flag rules

With several red flags during the recent Australian Grand Prix, the rules surrounding this have come under the microscope.

Currently, drivers return to the pit lane in this scenario and it is permitted for the teams to work on the cars. This is a rule that Villeneuve disagrees with.

"If you touch the car, then you get put at the back," Villeneuve suggested.

"Even if you change tyres, anything – it's too much of a help. You already get a Safety Car pit stop that gives you a 10-second advantage. Okay, you got lucky.

"During the red flag is just a little bit too much. You want to touch your car, fine, but go at the back."

Red flag or Safety Car?

On the topic of whether a red flag or a Safety Car should be used in these kinds of situations, Villeneuve has stated his preference.

"I like the standing start after a red flag," the former F1 driver commented.

"And I like the idea that, [if there are] two laps to go, you go straight to a red flag to avoid finishing [behind the Safety Car], like in Australia.

"Those goals were the right ones. It was overly chaotic, [but] just because of the drivers."

Also interesting:

Balve Bains is joined by RacingNews365.com Editorial Director Dieter Rencken and Asia Correspondent Michael Butterworth to dissect the key talking points from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

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