Briatore still eyes Villeneuve

Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore hasn't given up in his quest to sign Jacques Villeneuve in the future - despite the Canadian re-signing with BAR for another three years

Briatore still eyes Villeneuve

The 1997 World Champion re-committed to BAR-Honda last week, but has a get-out clause if the team fails to perform. Villeneuve came close to signing for Benetton for 2001, and should he choose to exercise that get-out clause, the Enstone-based team remains a viable option, having recently been bought by Renault as a vehicle for its full-scale return to Grand Prix racing.

"We dealt with him right up to the end," said Briatore, speaking in this week's Motoring News, "but I imagine his friendship with (BAR boss) Craig Pollock decided it. Of course I'd have liked to have had him - but there's no problem. We'll stay friends. We will wait a year, and then when Renault takes full command of this team perhaps we'll talk again."

As well as its buy-out by Renault, Benetton has also secured the services of Jordan technical chief Mike Gascoyne, but 2001 is still likely to be a transitional year - as Briatore admitted.

"It's better things went like this," he said. "I'm not sure my team in 2001 will be ready for a driver like Villeneuve. But I hope I can make him unhappy next year."

Benetton's 2001 driver line-up is set to be finalised shortly, with Jenson Button lined-up to join current team-leader Giancarlo Fisichella. However, Briatore seems unwilling to fully bow down to the financial demands of the drivers' respective management teams.

Speaking of the British rookie sensation, the Italian said: "I honestly believe that Button is good and intelligent. But if he wants results he should join Benetton, if he wants money he should go somewhere else."

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