Hamilton, Norris deny Villeneuve claim simulators increasing risks by drivers

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Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris have rebuked a suggestion by Jacques Villeneuve that drivers are less averse to risk because of simulators.

In the wake of Anthoine Hubert's tragic death following a high-speed collision at Spa, the debate over safety has been relit with the topic of whether tarmac run-off areas are leading to drivers taking more liberties.

However, the 1997 world champion believes the root cause is linked to a change in how drivers prepare and test in a virtual environment now compared to a real-life one.

"Instead of letting the young drivers test, they sit for a week in the race simulator," Villeneuve told Belgium's RTBF.

"When they get to the racetrack, they behave as if they're still in the simulator. It is not the same stress as it used to be, it does not bring the same adrenaline.

"The assessment of danger, of the enormous risk that they take when they go to the racetrack, is no longer the same."

However, when that theory was put to Lando Norris, who is very actively involved in sim racing away from the track, he rejected any link.

"I don't think it's got anything to do with sim racing," he said at Monza. "It's just something he maybe wants to use as an excuse for it.

"Safety is getting much better, especially compared to when he would have been racing.

"It's not like we completely forget it. We don't go flat out and not care about anything. We still realise what danger is.

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"Everything is getting safer, so sometimes you take more risks than at other times," he conceded.

"I don't know what happened on the weekend and I don't want to talk about it, but I'm sure it wasn't anyone doing anything stupid or risking anything.

"I think it was something small that turned into something pretty big. I don't think it's because we're younger, more fearless, less fearless. It's unlucky. That's about it."

Hamilton, who could perhaps see Villeneuve's argument better due to his past experience, totally dismissed the Canadian.

"I don't really agree with a lot of the opinions of that individual and I don't know if anyone [does]," he said.

"I personally don't listen to that individual's opinion, but [on the simulator link] I don't think so. If you look at the kids on the ski slopes, from small up they have no fears and it is the same with us race drivers, whatever age.

"I am sure as you get a bit older it [fear] creeps in, but the simulators don't make you more or less fearful. I don't agree with that, no."