Jacques Villeneuve has warned countryman Lance Stroll that his toughest challenges lie ahead in F1.
Just like Villeneuve in 1996, Stroll is a young Canadian with a famous father who is set to break into formula one with the British team Williams.
But Villeneuve, now 45, is in fact a regular critic of ‘pay drivers’, amid reports Stroll is perhaps the most lucrative example of that in F1 history.
“I did say that money does not buy talent and I stand by that statement,” the 1997 world champion told the Journal de Montreal.
“But money doesn’t mean you don’t have talent,” Villeneuve insisted.
In that way, he said Stroll cannot be blamed for being born the son of a billionaire.
“Money allows you to enter through the front door,” said the former Williams driver.
Villeneuve also warned that just because Stroll has dominated this year’s highly competitive European F3 series doesn’t mean he will automatically shine in F1.
“Winning F3 doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “There are so many drivers who have won in F3 but nothing afterwards. And others who did nothing in F1 and exploded in F1.”
Still, he praised Stroll’s father, the fashion mogul Lawrence, for backing his son so comprehensively.
“He made the right choices and was able to prepare his son, who in turn delivered the goods,” said Villeneuve.
But F1, the 11-time GP winner warned, will be Stroll’s ultimate test.
“It remains to be seen how Lance will evolve psychologically in F1,” he said. “He will no longer be protected by your father but instead left rather to himself.
“He is very quick and has talent, but he has not yet learned to suffer. Lance has fought to win races, but he has not fought to survive in motor sport.
“He has not finished learning, and I’m anxious to see how he will react.”