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'Schumacher isn't a great champion'

August 18, 2006 11:21 IST

Former Formula One driver Jacques Villeneuve has criticised seven-times champion Michael Schumacher for his on-track conduct over the years and said the German's legacy would quickly fade when he retired.

In an interview due to be published in F1 Racing magazine next week, 1997 world champion Villeneuve said Schumacher would not be favourably compared to other drivers such as the late Brazilian Ayrton Senna and added that he had used too many "dirty tricks" in his career.

"I think that the problem is you don't ever see his true personality," Canadian Villeneuve is quoted as saying. "He's a racer -- but a pure racer, nothing but a racer, and because of that, I think that the day he hangs up his helmet people will just forget about him.

"Michael simply isn't a great champion because he's played too many dirty tricks and because he isn't a great human being," added Villeneuve, who has panned Schumacher before for his image and status in Formula One.

"Yes, Senna played dirty tricks too, but he did it with more class, more integrity. When he took (Alain) Prost out at Suzuka in 1990, he said he was going to do it before the race.

"It's quite sad, really -- because the reason Michael did what he did is that he thinks that he is better than the rest of us. He thinks he's bigger than the sport, too, but he isn't," added Villeneuve, who left Formula One earlier this month after BMW Sauber parted company with him.

Schumacher has not made any response to the interview and his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm said on Thursday: "We have been aware of the quotes since yesterday. We don't even want to make a 'no comment' on this."

The Ferrari driver has at times come under scrutiny for the manner in which he has won.

Schumacher was roundly criticised for stopping his car on the track at the penultimate corner during qualifying at the Monaco Grand Prix in May, and preventing title rival Fernando Alonso from setting a faster time.

In 1994, Schumacher, in a Benetton, collided with Briton Damon Hill to deny him the title at the Australian Grand Prix. Schumacher won his first championship.

He attempted a similar manoeuvre on Villeneuve in 1997, but crashed out and the Canadian went on to take the title.

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