Formula One risks becoming a “Hollywood show” after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix descended into “rental karting”, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has warned.
It sets up a thrilling season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Hamilton and Verstappen level on points following one of the most dramatic campaigns in recent memory.
But the controversial race, which featured two-flag stoppages and clashes between Hamilton and Verstappen, was not to everyone’s taste, with former driver David Coulthard suggesting that the sport has become “F1 UFC”.
And Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, was also highly critical of the battle between Hamilton and Verstappen and the chaos that unfolded in the penultimate race of the season.
“It wasn’t F1, it was rental karting,” Villeneuve told Autosport. “Everything was wrong. So I’m not sure what to say.
“And it’s hard to stay neutral, it’s hard to give a comment on what happened every time and be perceived as being neutral. You will always be perceived as taking sides, and that’s when it becomes a bit too much.
“Do we want sport and good F1? Or do we just want a Hollywood show? If you want a Hollywood show, today was amazing. But is that what F1 is all about? I don’t know. I mean, I think today Frank [Williams] would have turned in his grave, seeing this race.
“And then when you see the team principals, everybody is shouting, and putting pressure even on the marshals and so on, that become ridiculous. It really has become ridiculous.
“It was great for the fans. So that probably will increase the viewership. Which is great for F1. But we’re starting to get away from the sport, that’s all. So ultimately, it depends if you’re a purist or not.”