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Jacques Villeneuve

Villeneuve praises fighter Verstappen: 'His drive to win keeps Red Bull at the top'

The 1997 F1 World Champion believes that you can only perform at the top of your game when you are constantly challenged, but one person reigns supreme in that regard: Max Verstappen.

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Rivalries in Formula 1 can often bring out the best in competitors, as they look for the extra pieces of performance that can make a difference on track.

The rivalry between Team Principal's Christian Horner and Toto Wolff is an example, according to 1997 F1 World Champion Jaques Villeneuve, of how it can motivate drivers to perform better on track.

“That’s the only way you can progress,” Villeneuve told PlanetF1.com.

“Without the rivalry, you go backward. In the past, Mercedes were winning easily and it is costly today because it took them way too long to react to last year’s car problem."

Villeneuve believes Mercedes years of domination made it harder for them to come back from their car troubles.

“They spent so many years where it didn’t matter if the car was perfect or not, they had all the horsepower behind them. That’s why [Wolff is] right, you need that rivalry," adds Villeneuve.

“That’s why Red Bull is still at the top, because Max is fighting still as if it was for the championship.

“If he had given up four races ago, they would be slower next year.”

Despite the fact that things are not going smoothly at Mercedes at the moment, Villeneuve is convinced that Wolff is the right person to get things back on track.

"It was tough two years ago when they lost the championship,” said Villeneuve.

“Then he lost his marbles a little bit, the whole situation, because the team was not used to not winning.

“It was just cold water. Even a lot of the mechanics of the team, they were not used to it and not all of them could actually live with that.

“But he’s recovered really well. The team has been going in the right direction. Progress has been fair this year, although not as impressive as McLaren.

“He has the character, the personality and the strength. So there’s no reason why not. Then it depends on who else is in the team, it depends also on how Lewis and George work with the engineers in pushing the team forward and focus, same as Max, or not.”

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