Jacques Villeneuve has called into question the usefulness of Ferrari’s Driver Academy, insisting most members would make it on their own in motorsport given the backing they already enjoy.
In the past few years, Ferrari has supported and mentored a large group of young talents, two of which – Charles Leclerc and Antonio Giovinazzi – have graduated to Formula 1.
Mick Schumacher is a third offshoot from Maranello that will step up into the spotlight this season. But Villeneuve argues that the majority of the Scuderia’s protégés would make it on their own, even without the benefit of Ferrari’s mentorship program.
“Apart from Leclerc, everyone had money in their hands when they entered the Academy,” Villeneuve Sky Italia.
“He was the only one who did not have his finances in order when he entered the Academy.
“The others, however, all had a considerable budget and that helps you on your way. Of course you still have to do it yourself, but even without Ferrari these guys would be where they are today.”
Ferrari’s leading hopeful this year include Callum Ilott, Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong, while 20-year-old Arthur Leclerc has also been added to Ferrari’s talent pool.
Read also: Steiner sees Leclerc as guide for Schumacher’s progression
Villeneuve considers Schumacher as a special case relative to his fellow FDA memebrs given his famous last name.
“Mick has, of course, been under a lot of pressure in recent years because of his name” said the Canadian who obviously knows what it’s like to live to the expectations created by a famous name.
“He has certainly felt that pressure and therefore he has been able to learn from it. That’s a big difference compared to the other guys in the Academy.”
“A well-known name helps in part, but it also gives you a lot of pressure. People want to see results from you immediately and how the media treats you is not easy – you get a lot of questions about your father.
“It’s difficult to give answers, like when you are asked who you want to thank after a good result.
“They want to hear that you are thanking your father or something like that, but that’s a difficult question for someone like Mick.”
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