Villeneuve says IndyCar resurgence sparked return to Indy 500
|By Mark Glendenning||Thursday, February 27th 2014, 09:51 GMT|
Jacques Villeneuve says that the recent leaps made by IndyCar were a major factor in his decision to make a single-seater comeback in this year's Indianapolis 500.
The Canadian, who won at Indy for Team Green in 1995, has not raced a single-seater since splitting with Sauber mid-way through the 2006 Formula 1 season.
Over the years that followed he expressed little interest in returning to IndyCar, but admitted on Wednesday that recent standard of racing in the series helped change his mind.
"I guess [the change of heart] started when they started going back to road racing, going back to a mix of tracks, going back to the IndyCar that I knew, basically," said Villeneuve, who will drive a third Schmidt Peterson Motorsport entry.
"Then came this new car, which was quite a surprise with the spoilers and everything.
"I was dubious until the first time I saw it racing, then I realised how amazing it was, how close the racing was for open-wheel racing. It's [almost] never heard of anymore in modern days. That's how racing used to be.
"When I started seeing that last year, I started getting excited again, just because the racing was amazing, the cars looked fast and aggressive, it looked hard on the drivers, and the battles were fierce, which is all what I love about racing."
The 1997 F1 world champion's test schedule in the lead-up to the 500 is still yet to be finalised.
While Villeneuve concedes that his preference is to get as much seat time as possible, he is confident that the practice weeks will allow for sufficient preparation if organising additional tests proves to be unviable.
"Obviously it would be nice to get a few miles, a few laps in before getting into Indy," he said.
"The good thing is there's still plenty of laps to get done during the month of May. I've been on that racetrack. Even though it was a long time ago, it feels like it was yesterday. I hope I remember it well."
Villeneuve said that while the idea of running additional races appealed to him, his existing commitments and the difficulty in getting up to speed on a road or street course without adequate preparation means that his Indy foray is likely to be a one-off.
"Doing just a race like Toronto is really stacking it against you," he said. "It's a very hard racetrack. You don't get the mileage like you do at Indy, so to just arrive there on the weekend without having driven the car would not be very constructive.
"It's not something you just jump into unless you're working on doing the full season the following year and building something up.
"Just as a one-off, the Indy 500 is the one race that stands out. It is the biggest race in the world. You can focus on that."