Jacques Villeneuve has lashed out at the abuse he suffered in the controversy surrounding Charles Leclerc’s use of his father’s helmet design at F1’s Canadian Grand Prix.
On Friday, Leclerc unveiled a tribute helmet in the iconic red and black color scheme worn by former Ferrari driver Gilles Villeneuve, for whom the Canadian Grand Prix venue is named.
However, Leclerc’s announcement came as a surprise to the Villeneuve family, as neither the Ferrari driver nor management had asked the family for permission.
After discussions with Leclerc and Villeneuve’s sister Melanie, who managed the portrait rights of his late father, the issue was resolved and Leclerc was allowed to use the design from Saturday onwards.
But before the true nature of the matter became public, 1997 world champion Villeneuve was seen on social media as denying Leclerc the right to pay tribute to his father, who died during qualifying for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. was bombarded with barrage of abuse.
The former Williams and BAR Honda driver took to his social media channels to clarify the situation regarding a recent incident where some felt the need to use his father’s helmet to insult me and my family over Charles Leclerc. I will do it,” he posted.
Villeneuve lamented that some media outlets and social media commenters had made the case look worse than it really was, even though the dispute was amicably resolved.
“Unfortunately, this case has become needlessly large and unnecessary controversy,” he added.
Ferrari Charles Leclerc tribute helmet
Photo credit: Ferrari
On Saturday, when the issue was resolved, Leclerc invited the Villeneuve family to the circuit for a photo with them and the tribute helmet.
“We had a heartfelt conversation and he sincerely apologized for the situation,” Villeneuve explained.
“I considered this a moving tribute and reassured him that there was nothing personally wrong with him.
“However, I emphasized the importance of him reaching out to his sister because she is responsible for managing everything regarding our father. Also, I stressed the importance of contacting his sister to address remaining concerns. I suggested to him to invite both his sister and mother to the circuit.”
“Charles has been very nice to us. We have no objections. It’s a great compliment,” his sister Melanie told Motorsport.com on Saturday.