Formula One needs more characters and fewer 'corporate robots', says Canada's outspoken former champion Jacques Villeneuve. "The sport is short of characters," the BAR Honda driver said on Wednesday. "These young, inexperienced drivers are so happy to be a part of it that they never say what they think."
"Losing Jean Alesi hurt the sport," he continued. "If Eddie Irvine doesn't find a drive next season that will hurt the business too. It's a little bit sad."
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Fiery Frenchman Alesi retired at the end of 2001 while Northern Ireland's Irvine, who often targets rivals with acerbic comments, has been linked to Jordan since he left Jaguar in October but still has no deal in place.
"F1 has become a corporate sport and corporations don't want human beings driving, they want robots. Nobody sees the difference. They still see the same cars winning and that's what they want," said Villeneuve. "What they don't understand is that they won't have any fans watching the racing if they keep doing that."
Villeneuve, who does less corporate work than most of his fellow drivers, said Williams' Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya was an exception. "But a lot of the other drivers haven't even sweated to get into F1. All the other drivers are picked out of Formula Ford because the corporation thinks it can give them the personality it wants," he said.
Villeneuve suggested that characters such as British rally driver Colin McRae or Italian motorcycling champion Valentino Rossi would be the sort of people Formula One needs.
"Let's be honest, even Colin McRae couldn't do much worse than the drivers currently at Jaguar," said Villeneuve.
Webber, who switched to Jaguar after a year at Minardi, fired back his own retort. "I don't know why he's having a pop at the young guys," he said. "Perhaps he's just been a bit short of publicity lately. We intend to prove him wrong next year and I'm sure we will."
The Canadian is joined by 22-year-old Briton Jenson Button next season in what is likely to be Villeneuve's final year at BAR.
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