Nico Rosberg should have nothing to prove. He’s a Formula One champion, the son of a Formula One champion, and he retired on top. And yet, for some reason he spends his time being a YouTuber. Now current F1 driver/son of an F1 driver Max Verstappen just called out Rosberg as “the new Jacques Villeneuve,” because of what Verstappen pegs as being intentionally controversial hot takes. It’s pretty much the harshest criticism you can give in F1, but more than that it epitomizes the fact that no one really knows what the hell to make of Rosberg now.
Rosberg retired from F1 immediately after winning the 2016 World Championship. Since then, he’s held a relatively tenuous role in the racing world by becoming a sometimes-pundit at Sky Sports as well as becoming, uh, a YouTube vlogger. In possibly the most unfortunate kind of way.
It’s given Rosberg a chance to voice opinions that he couldn’t have shared if he were actually still a driver—not that they’re necessarily good takes or even particularly spicy takes. But Verstappen has pegged them as being intentionally controversial, especially the comments directed at him.
Speaking to Dutch media about Rosberg’s remarks, Verstappen said: “I think he is the new Jacques Villeneuve. Villeneuve has changed quite a bit, but it seems that Rosberg now and again wants to give a contrary opinion.
“But I really don’t care what he says on his channels anyway. He does it very often. At the beginning of this year he even called me a narcissist. That is very extreme.”
Now that’s a spicy take—spicier than plenty of the stuff we see from Rosberg’s YouTube. Villeneuve famously spent his days after winning the F1 title in the 1990s making... interesting! music and making everyone wish he just retired to quiet winemaking or something. But Verstappen wasn’t done slaughtering the man quite yet:
“He has got no charisma and he doesn’t get to work anywhere,” added Verstappen. “But hey, that’s also his problem.
“Maybe he also wants to make money with his YouTube channel. But then he could have been better off driving, because then he could have earned much more money.”
Both of these people are children of other F1 drivers, so it’s a bit of a rich kid fight, but still.
Calling someone The New Jacques Villeneuve is bad enough (he is the man who, after all, recently decided that young race car drivers have no appreciation for danger because they use racing simulators), but asserting that they have no charisma? Even if it’s kind of true? Ouch.
Rosberg has pretty frequently lived life with such defining traits as, “that guy Lewis Hamilton beat” and “Keke Rosberg’s son.” Adding “YouTube vlogger” onto that list of high distinction is probably the 2019 version of “releasing a mediocre album,” which is to say, kind of questionable and probably something we will all be laughing about into perpetuity.
It’s not every day that I agree with Max Verstappen—but, man. Harsh, but fair.