Jacques Villeneuve has dismissed claims that fellow-Canadian Lance Stroll is a 'pay driver'.
The 18-year-old will make his Formula One début for Williams next season after winning this year's European Formula Three title.
Although a championship winner in Formula Four as well, he has already been dismissed by some as a 'pay driver', with reports suggesting that Stroll's billionaire father has already spent $80 million on his career to date.
But former champion Villeneuve has hit back, saying Stroll is unlike a vast number of other drivers who have come from money.
"I don't know," he told www.Minute-Auto.fr when asked if Williams' choice was a surprising one. "He arrives with a huge budget and Williams needs it, but also with the F3 title and, on paper, a huge talent. It's not like Pastor Maldonado!"
Stroll wil be the second teenager to enter F1 in recent years, following in the footsteps of Max Verstappen. However, Villeneuve thinks Stroll will have a different experience when he arrives next year.
"We must not forget that Verstappen arrived with Red Bull and could afford to push," he said. "Especially as he has been somewhat protected by the authorities, as we see with the lack of penalties he's had."
"But Stroll comes with financial security, so he can afford to take his time and learn well," Villeneuve added.