F1 Champ Jacques Villeneuve Uses Xbox Controller to Finish Sixth in Pro Sim Racing Debut

It ain’t what you drive, it’s how you drive it.

byJames Gilboy|
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When it comes to sim racing, which combination of driver and setup do you expect to be more successful? An $8,000 sim setup with the owner of the front-wheel drive Pikes Peak record at the helm, or a retired Canadian singer-songwriter with an Xbox controller? If you guessed the former, you'd be wrong, because 1997 Formula 1 world champion Jacques "Foolin' Around" Villeneuve finished sixth overall using nothing but a lowly gamepad in his sim racing debut on Saturday.

Villeneuve chalked up the result in the invitational "Legends Trophy" sim race for current and professional racing drivers over the age of 40. He initially struggled against a field comprised of two other F1 champions and six Indianapolis 500 winners, qualifying 20th and last for the first of the two races at Sebring that day, more than 1.3 seconds off pole-sitting 2009 F1 champ Jenson Button.

The Canadian's vantage point from the back of the grid, however, allowed him to dodge pileups in the first few corners, opening the door for him to snake his way up to ninth just seconds into the race. An aggressive pass on three-time Champ Car race winner Max Papis and further contact ahead pushed Villeneuve up to sixth, where he remained until the checkered flag.

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His fellow F1 champions Emerson Fittipaldi and Jenson Button finished 16th and 1st respectively, the latter with a visibly pricier racing setup than Villeneuve's humble combination of controller and laptop. Even so, Button felt little more at home in the world of simulated racing with his high-dollar rig than Villeneuve did with his bargain-basement sim race equipment.

"It's amazing how nervous you get. I was more nervous on this in the race than I am in real life," commented Button to Reuters UK, echoing the sentiments of his fellow McLaren-driving Brit Lando Norris. "I think it's because every corner you feel like you're going to end up in the tire barriers."

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