Hamilton conquered Formula One for the fourth time in his career, scooping the prize last week after finishing ninth in the Mexican Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old fended off Ferrari’s Vettel to win the accolade, moving him above Sir Jackie Stewart’s total of three in the process.
And former F1 driver Villeneuve thinks Lewis Hamilton won the title because Vettel forced him to take his game to the next level.
“Lewis is really, really good,” Villeneuve told Autosport.
“He’s only ever been in the best team with the best car, or close to it, like every great champion, which is fine.
“If he can be the whole season like he’s been since the summer break, great, but he hasn’t done a full season like that.
“He wasn’t there. I think he fell asleep with Bottas, and when he realised that Bottas wasn’t the one he had to fight, it was actually Vettel, that’s when he woke up.
“He spent years with Nico, and it was always tough with Nico.
“Then when Bottas arrived he was laughing – ‘phew, finally I’ll have an easy championship.’ After a while he realised, ‘crap, Ferrari is there and Vettel is there.’ And Vettel is not one to give up.”
Villeneuve also thinks Ferrari’s improvements made 2017 a good year for Formula One.
“It’s always good when Ferrari is in the mix, and it’s always good when it’s a battle,” Villeneuve added.
“On that aspect it’s been a good year to have faster cars, and it’s been a good year because we’ve been used to terrible years!
“So right now we’re saying, ‘Wow this was an amazing year.'”