5. Jacques Villeneuve
Blondie. All he did was play it cool, thumbed his nose to the authorities and Schumacher and still won the world championship in 1997. He was so caught up in how good he thought he was, he and BAR boasted of being able to challenge for the title in 1999 with what was essentially Tyrrells (never gonna happen).
But, really, what makes him so high on the cool list is two things: THAT overtake of Michael Schumacher around the outside of the last corner at Estoril in 1996, as well as always flat out through Eau Rouge no matter what. Look it up on youtube, his crashes in 1998 and 1999 during practice say it all, never doing anything but giving 100%. Like him or not, he never pretended to be anything but Jacques.
Jacques Villeneuve’s scars from hair transplant procedures he has had in the past. I reckon they look pretty sick.
Jacques would go on to win multiple races that season, claiming his first at the historic Nurburgring, followed by wins at the equally historic Silverstone, here at Hungary and a vital and hard fought victory at the penultimate round at Estoril, Portugal, where he did an amazing overtake on double world champion Michael Schumacher around the outside of the long right hander that lead onto the straight. Schumacher labelled Villeneuve stupid, but Villeneuve didn’t care because he had a title to fight for, albeit eight points adrift of his team mate.
Damon Hill congratulating and consoling team mate Jacques Villeneuve after his maiden Grand Prix at Melbourne, 1996. Starting from pole position, the French-Canadian Indy 500 winner and son of former Ferrari hero Gilles Villeneuve, lead most of the race before a small off damaged the rear of his car, causing it to spill oil all over his close following team mate. To stop the car from completely failing all together, Villeneuve had to drop off the pace which allowed Hill to pass and take the first win of what would be a dominant season for the two Williams drivers.
Naturally thrilled with a stunning debut where he outqualified and outpaced his esteemed and more experience team mate, Villeneuve was left deflated after failing to win due to a small mistake.
Perhaps the most unique looking car in Formula One history, the renamed Tyrrell team after being bought by British American Tobacco wasn’t very fast and acted as basically just a mobile Tobacco billboard for BAT cigarette brands 555 and Lucky Strike. The car wasn’t very good (in fact, it was awful) and failed to score a single point, with Brazilian driver Ricardo Zonta even failing to qualify for a Grand Prix - the only time that year that happened.
The team was named British American Racing. I see what they did there…
1999, Jacques Villeneuve, British American Racing Supertec.
Jacques leads the way into the Variante Ascari, Monza, 1997.
Jacques on his way to victory at Barcelona, 1997.
Jacques and Heinz-Harold celebrate a double-podium for Williams, Austria 1997.
Jacques Villeneuve, after winning the Luxembourg Grand Prix, put himself into a commanding position in the Driver’s championship with 2 races remaining, leading by 9 points. This was a massive turn around after being 11 points behind Michael Schumacher on a few Grand Prix earlier, but thanks to back-to-back wins at Austria and the Nurburgring, Villeneuve looked primed to take the title with only two Grand Prix remaining.