Jacques Villeneuve believes Max Verstappen is finally ready to follow his lead and become Formula 1 world champion, having gained vital experience over recent years. Verstappen is the youngest entrant, points-scorer and race-winner in Formula 1 history, but Villeneuve has often been a critic of his.
Although Villeneuve doubts that Red Bull's RB15 can help Verstappen to glory in 2019, the 1997 world champion is certain that the team is the right place for Verstappen.
"It's clear that if you are offered the opportunity to drive in Formula 1, you take it with both hands," Villeneuve told RacingNews365.
"As a young driver you never know what a season in Formula 2 will bring you, so choose Formula 1 when you have the option.
"Max also made the right choice by opting for Red Bull. The team fits him very well, because they build the team around one driver.
"If he had driven for another team, I don't think he would be around for so long. Max has done well in recent years, but let's face it, he is no longer the driver of three years ago.
"In the form that he is now showing, he could compete for the title with a good car.
"That chance may not come to pass this season, but in the coming years I think he is ready as a person."
Verstappen debuted in F1 with just one year of open-cockpit racing under his belt in the European Formula 3 Championship, but Villeneuve says it is not just the Dutchman who made it to the top worryingly ahead of schedule.
"It's not about my opinion about Max, but about Formula 1 as a whole," he added.
"Drivers who enter Formula 1 must be immediately ready to compete. That means that you must have learned a lot in the preliminary phase.
"As far as Verstappen goes, that's how he should have been when he made his debut in F1, but he got the chance to get in much younger and with a lot less experience and I can understand that you take that opportunity because you take it simply cannot refuse."
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