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Villeneuve quit over Kubica shoot-out

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has broken his silence about why he split with BMW-Sauber - and claims he was simply not interested in getting involved in a shoot-out with Robert Kubica over a 2007 race drive.

In an exclusive interview with this week's Autosport, the Canadian insists that there was no acrimony in the way his relationship with the team ended.

Instead, he claims it boiled down simply to him not being willing to stand down for a few events while the team evaluated Kubica in a race situation.

"After having been in F1 for 10 years and having won the championship and so on, even though it's quite a few years ago, I wasn't ready to stay home some weekends just to see how the other guy would go and to then be compared to him," said Villeneuve.

"Not because I was worried that he would go faster or slower, it could happen both ways and that would be life. It's just not something that anybody that's been there and won races would accept basically, that's all.

"I knew that after that I wouldn't be able to give everything I had. It just doesn't feel fair, so I wouldn't be able to train like a maniac and take all the risks that I took racing, basically."

Villeneuve claims that his parting of ways with BMW-Sauber was very different to the way he left the BAR-Honda team prior to the 2003 Japanese Grand Prix.

"By Suzuka that year I was actually extremely angry and bitter. It was just heavy. The season had been unbearable, and it had been made unbearable, and it was just hell. I didn't want to be in the paddock either. There were a lot of different things.

"This time there wasn't really bitterness, it was just matter of fact. This has happened, OK, it doesn't make me happy, I don't want to work my butt off for the rest of the season if it's like that, and then to wait until November and maybe there would be a decision for the year after.

"At that point I let other things get on my mind basically, and it was 'Well. screw that, let's carry on with life'."

Villeneuve has said he has no firm plans to continue his racing career, although he has expressed an interest in either Le Mans or NASCAR.

"In open wheel racing, if you've won F1, there's nothing above it. I don't want to race just for the sake of racing. I've got other things in my life. Le Mans could be a fun thing, because it's a special race to win, but that's the only reason for it. You can't make a career out of that, but you can do it until later anyway, so there's no rush.

"If you're going to be racing again you've got to do something that's huge in its own terms, and has nothing to do with what you've done before. That's why, that's the reason. But you know, first of all I have to see if I want to drive or not."

He added: "If I was going to drive again, it would have to be NASCAR, that's all. Of course, when you look at the cars they're big and heavy and it's different, but the races look very exciting, and there's a lot of talent in there.

"And basically it's something you have to learn from scratch, and I think that's what would make it interesting and exciting. When you start at the bottom of the ladder and have to learn, you really have to outdo yourself, it makes it exciting."

For the full interview with Jacques Villeneuve, see this week's Autosport magazine.

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