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.