Interview: Villeneuve Not Begging BAR to Keep Him

Jacques Villeneuve says he is not ready to retire from Formula One but nor is he about to beg BAR to keep him.

Interview: Villeneuve Not Begging BAR to Keep Him

Jacques Villeneuve says he is not ready to retire from Formula One but nor is he about to beg BAR to keep him.

The former Champion, who could be forced out at the end of the season, told reporters at the US Grand Prix on Thursday that he would not change his uncompromising attitude either.

"You make it sound as if I'm begging to stay with the team," the Canadian said when asked how he felt about suggestions that he might have to take part in a 'shoot-out' with other drivers for the BAR drive.

"The team is looking to see if I'm the right driver for them but on the other hand I have to see if it's the right team for me. I've never worked as hard as the last couple of years, but also I've never had as little fun in racing as in the last two years."

Villeneuve joined BAR, co-founded by friend and manager Craig Pollock, in 1999 after winning the championship with Williams in 1997. Pollock was ousted as team boss in 2001 and Villeneuve's season has been full of speculation that he will be replaced by Japan's Takuma Sato.

"Someone has to take the fall for the lack of results," said Villeneuve about his situation. "Craig got the fall two years ago so I guess I'm the next one in line."

Attitude Change

BAR boss David Richards has been quoted as saying that Villeneuve needed to change his attitude but the Canadian ruled that out. "It won't change," he said. "If there's something that I don't like, I'll say it instead of saying 'oh yes, it's great' and then behind the back saying 'look at that idiot'.

"People sometimes prefer to be kissed and then, even though they know it's not the truth, it makes them feel good. But at the same time it earned me respect. It will be used negatively if people don't want to work with me...but if I were to change just for that, it would destroy everything I have ever accomplished."

Villeneuve said he aimed to stay in Formula One and did not want to think about alternatives. However he ruled out ever competing in the Indy Racing League (IRL), who run the Indy 500 that he won in 1995 and are rivals to the CART championship.

"I will never race in IRL," he said. "IRL destroyed open-wheel racing in North America so it serves no good purpose. Too bad. The Indy 500 has always been the biggest and most important race in the world and it has been tainted by the fact that now there's two series."

Villeneuve said he was calm about his future. "I have achieved my childhood dream which was to win the F1 title, the 500 here," he said. "Even if I was forced to retire, I wouldn't bite my nails. I wouldn't wake up in the morning and feel sorry for myself.

"So that is good, it allows me to do all my thinking with a clear mind. But I am definitely not ready to retire. Right now I find it difficult to imagine racing in anything other than F1 but once you don't have something any more you start thinking differently. Maybe something else will start exciting me."

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