Jacques Villeneuve has taken a unique stance on Lewis Hamilton's praise of Charles Leclerc following his victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix, claiming that the world champion's words were 'not genuine' and instead were used to 'belittle' the young driver.
Leclerc enjoyed almost a perfect weekend in Bahrain, finishing on pole in qualifying and leading the race with ease until a power problem with 10 laps remaining meant he limped to a third-place finish, as Hamilton took the chequered flag.
Speaking to Sky's Martin Brundle post-race, Hamilton heaped praise upon Leclerc, stating that his own win was fortunate and that we could 'expect many more wins' from the 21-year-old in the future.
But in his stint as analyst for Sky Italia, Villeneuve claimed that Hamilton's words had an ulterior motive and he was positioning himself for a psychological battle with the man who could be his closest contender for the title this season.
He said: "It's nice that people are so positive about Hamilton when he spoke so nicely to Leclerc. However, what people forget it that drivers are very aware of the cameras and that their words will travel across the world. I don't think Hamilton's words for Leclerc were genuine.
"If you listen closely to what Hamilton is saying, he's actually trying to say he's much better than Leclerc and the rest of the field. The words were belittling towards Leclerc, which is how Hamilton wanted to show to him that he's above him."
Villeneuve is no stranger to a soundbite getting him into trouble, with his most recent comments about Robert Kubica's return to F1 being met with much derision from observers.