Jacques Villeneuve has praised Juan Pablo Montoya for having the courage to defect to NASCAR - and taken a swipe at team bosses for draining the personality out of Formula One.

Villeneuve saluted a 'ballsy and gutsy' decision from Montoya, who ditched Formula One for the United States-based stock car racing series after struggling to find a 2007 seat.

But Villeneuve, 35, also hit out at Formula One's obsession with youth, claiming young drivers are not as exciting as the likes of Montoya.

Asked whether the fiery Colombian will be missed by Formula One, he said: 'Depends with whom he is replaced, which means probably.

'If it is a 20-year-old just out of Formula Ford, it won't be exciting because he will be groomed so correctly.'

Villeneuve is fighting to find a contract for 2007 with his BMW-Sauber seat under pressure from rookie test driver Robert Kubica, who has become a protege of team boss Mario Theissen.

Montoya was facing a similar scenario at McLaren, where rookies Lewis Hamilton and Gary Paffett wait in the wings, and Villeneuve lashed out at teams for hiring drivers on the cheap.

He said: 'I think the teams have decided they can find a rare diamond who will be the next Fernando Alonso and will stay with them and cost no money.

'What they fail to realise is that when he becomes quick another team will come in for him - they groomed him and it served no purpose to the team.

'The driver is the one who gains not the team. It's worked with one person, what they don't realise is it hasn't worked with 20 others.'