BMW Yet to Decide on Villeneuve

BMW have sent a clear message to Canadian Jacques Villeneuve that he is being closely watched and should not assume he will be driving for their Formula One team next year

The 34-year-old Villeneuve has a year to run on his contract with Swiss-based Sauber, who will compete next year as BMW's team after being bought by the German carmaker, and expects to be kept on.

However, BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen could not confirm on Friday that the 1997 World Champion would be partnering Germany's Nick Heidfeld, whose three-year contract was announced this month.

"We have been fully focused on getting Nick under contract for next year in the first instance and now we are looking into the other issue," Theissen told Reuters at the Brazilian Grand Prix, when asked about Villeneuve.

"Apparently we all saw that even a World Champion cannot return after a period of being out of the sport and be competitive right from the start.

"So Jacques's first half of the season was certainly not encouraging," said Theissen.

"Now he is catching up and we just decided we wanted to see him in the second half of the season. We don't see ourselves under any time pressure but that's on our table now.

"You will see the definite line-up at the first race," Theissen added. "Anything can happen in Formula One."

Villeneuve, who won his title with Williams, was dropped by BAR at the end of 2003 and missed most of last season before making a comeback with Renault for the last three races.

He joined Sauber at the start of the season and struggled to match the form of Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa, who is leaving for Ferrari.

The low point came in Monaco in May when the two Saubers collided after Villeneuve tried to go past, dashing the team's hopes of points.

The Canadian's form has improved since then and he finished sixth in the last Belgian Grand Prix.

Several other drivers have been linked with BMW, including BAR's British test driver Anthony Davidson and McLaren's Austrian Alexander Wurz.

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