The online ‘carnage’ about Charles Leclerc’s Gilles Villeneuve memorial helmet in memory of the Canadian race track’s namesake has been cleared up by Jacques Villeneuve. But the web has singled out Canadian driver as the culprit and the 1997 F1 world champion has been berated on social media.
Now, the 52-year-old has spoken up. Taking to his social media channels, the former Williams and BAR Honda driver posted a statement to “clarify the situation regarding the recent incident where some people felt the need to insult me and my family because Charles Leclerc used my father’s helmet”.
Villeneuve expresses regret that the incident was blown out of proportion by certain media outlets and in social media comments, as the matter was amicably resolved. He is serving as a TV pundit at the Canadian Grand Prix.
“Unnecessary controversy” in Formula One
“Unfortunately, the matter was blown out of proportion and turned into an unnecessary controversy,” he writes at the end of his statement explaining what occured. He says, after arriving at the circuit, he received an angry phone call from his sister Melanie, who had seen Leclerc’s helmet without being asked for permission first.
“Our whole family was surprised and I immediately passed the message on to Charles, who kindly called. We had an honest conversation in which he sincerely apologised for the situation. I assured him that I thought it was a touching gesture and personally had no problem with it.”
“However, I stressed the importance of him contacting my sister as she is the one who deals with everything related to our father. I also suggested that he invite both my sister and mother to the track to discuss any outstanding issues.”
“Fortunately, everything went well”
Leclerc extended the invitation to the Villeneuve family and was given the green light to continue using the tribute helmet. However, as is so often the case on social media, Villeneuve was pre-judged before the meeting took place.
“Fortunately everything went well, but of course we would have preferred this matter to have been resolved in a respectful and professional manner before the weekend,” he continues.
Melanie Villeneuve praised Leclerc’s courteous manner during their joint meeting.
“Charles was very sweet about it,” she told Motorsport.com Global on Saturday. “We don’t mind. It’s a nice tribute.”