After three years of utter Mercedes dominance, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is leading the world championship after four races in 2017.
“I admit to being surprised,” Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion, told Italian blogger Leo Turrini.
But the French Canadian, who is now a television pundit for Italian television, also admitted to being surprised by Valtteri Bottas’ Sochi win.
“‘m also cautious,” said Villeneuve. “Sochi is his favourite circuit and he won’t be destroying Hamilton on every track like that.
“I also don’t know if he’s psychologically ready to fight for the championship.”
And Villeneuve said he will be surprised if Red Bull manages to catch up with Mercedes and Ferrari this year, even though the team is planning a ‘B’ car for Barcelona.
“They’re too far back,” he said. “Maybe they can win a race or two if they’re lucky, but with that car, I don’t see them at the level of Ferrari and Mercedes.
“My favourite for the title is Vettel,” said the 46-year-old. “Ferrari is doing a great job and Seb can handle the pressure.”
Villeneuve also defended Ferrari’s other driver, Kimi Raikkonen, even if some think the Finn is clearly Vettel’s ‘number 2’.
“Raikkonen is outstanding and much more than a number 2,” he said. “It surprises me that people are so determined to not realise it.
“At most the difference between him and Vettel is one tenth per lap. He’s also the perfect teammate who never creates tension with the team.”