F1 | Jacques Villeneuve: The FDA Academy has only helped Leclerc
The 1997 Formula One champion is critical about the support that the Academy actually provides for their drivers.
The Ferrari Driver Academy is a sportive program began in 2009 that aims to develop and support, both economically and professionally, young talents to improve their driving abilities, and, eventually, get them into the Formula 1 championship
Their 2021 lineup, while not as extensive as in past years, is impressive, with three drivers in the top four final standings of last season's F2 - Mick Schumacher, Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman. Many pilots on this season's F1 grid actually have ties with the Academy, like Sergio Pérez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc.
However, many are critical of such projects; and Jacques Villeneuve can be included among them. In an interview released to Sky Italia, the Canadian driver expressed his doubts on whether the Academy can actually help out their drivers in a proficuous way.
He said that, besides Leclerc, all the other drivers would have managed to get a seat in F1 even without their support because of their financial status: “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.”
The former F1 champion also talked about Mick Schumacher, 2020 F2 champion who will debut in F1 with Haas in this season, and especially on his handling the pressure that comes with being the son of a famous driver. He said that he's impressed by him, and that he thinks the added pressure has helped him to reach the top championship and in his improvement as a driver.
Being himself the son of Gilles Villeneuve, he opened up about how it is to race in Formula 1 with the added weight of an important surname: “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.”
The former Canadian driver is rumored to be taking part in the next Dtm racing season in what could result as a star-studded championship. He would be joining former F1 driver Jenson Button and Red Bull Reserve Driver Alexander Albon.