Jacques Villeneuve Q&A

Jacques Villeneuve's career took a turn for the better when he went to the Japanese F3 series in 1992. Competing against current BTCC stars Rickard Rydell, Anthony Reid and Tom Kristensen, he scored his first victory and was regarded as a serious prospect for the first time. Since then he's had a soft spot for the country. In 1996 and '97 he took pole position for the Japanese GP - and is thus the only man apart from Michael Schumacher in the current field who has been on pole at Suzuka. This weekend he returns to Japan as a works Honda driver, and having fought for a podium finish in the last two races, he could be a contender again this weekend. Adam Cooper spoke to the Canadian star

Jacques Villeneuve Q&A

Q: Japan was very important to your career when you raced there in 1992. How do you feel about going back each year?
"It feels great. I have lots of memories because I was there for a year, and not only the racing was good. It helped me because I got away from the basics of international racing. When you're in Europe all you think about is F1 and you're thoughts about anything else in racing are completely blocked. Going to Japan allows you to have an open mind and just to race for the sake of racing. That's great. But it was also important as a growing up thing. Partly because you leave everything you know behind, and there's nobody you know around. You get there, you arrive in the airport, you don't know anybody, you get in a bus and go to the hotel and start living, and figure out your way in life. That's mostly why it was important, more than the driving side itself."

"Yes, because it was very open between drivers. It was like being at university. You have the races, a little of studies basically, and then you go out and have a drink. Even the lunch during the day when you're testing and qualifying you might have a coffee, see the other drivers, and have a laugh. Then it would be time to get back in the cars. So it was very laid back."

"I love Suzuka, the track is beautiful. Qualifying has gone well, but the races themselves definitely have not worked for me."

"I was happy that I was starting from pole, but then I had a bad start and lost a wheel later in a race. Every year the race has not worked well. In my championship year (1997) I was disqualified before the race because of speeding under yellow flags on the straight, so it's never been a very successful Sunday for me. It's been better on Saturday!"

"We're not quick enough yet. I don't want to see the reaction yet, I'd rather wait until next year, once we get more competitive."

"Japan is always special anyway. There's always a huge crowd, and it's a little bit special. Of course going back there as a Honda driver, I'm sure it will make a difference."

"Yes, it's very important to have an official engine supplier that works hard, that puts all the energy and all the engineering they have without stopping, to make sure that the project works. That's very important."

"Yes. Communication at first was a little bit difficult of course, compared to working with French people or English people, purely because of the language barrier, and also because of the way you were brought up and the way you think about things and the way you react to things. But the experience I have from Japan, the one year when I was racing there, has been really, really helpful for the work I can do now with Honda."

"It's good seeing the engine progress, because at the same time it forces the team to have car progress. Now the team can't blame the engine, for example! So the team has to make progress itself. So it's good, because it pushes both ways - the team pushes the engine, and the engine pushes the team as well."

"There's been a lot of progress from the team, but the other teams have also made a lot of progress as well. If we gain a second, then the other teams will gain half a second, so that still leaves us behind. So the results haven't been good lately, but the car is competitive, so it's not too bad. I think Hungary was the most difficult race. We qualified very poorly, but once we got into the race the car was really competitive, and actually that was one of the races where we were the quickest, and that was on a track that really didn't suit us. So I think it's looking good for the rest of the season."

"Our high downforce package is not good, and we can't put enough downforce on the car. Our maximum downforce is a lot less than other people's downforce, so on tracks like Hungary and Monaco, where you just bolt a lot of wing on the car, we're quick down the straight - but that's not very useful on a track where there's no straight!"

"I'm very happy to see the public reaction after two very difficult seasons. More people recognise what I do now than when I won the championships. So that makes life easier."

"Yes. This year was a building year. Next year for once there will be a continuation, and we won't be starting from scratch."


shares
comments
Rubens Barrichello’s Lap of Suzuka
Previous article

Rubens Barrichello’s Lap of Suzuka

Next article

Programming Clash To Cause Major Delay in Australia

Programming Clash To Cause Major Delay in Australia
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022
Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing Plus

Audi’s innovative first assault on grand prix racing

It has been a long time coming but Audi’s arrival in Formula 1 is finally on the horizon for 2026. But it won’t be its first foray into grand prix racing, as the German manufacturer giant has a history both long and enthralling

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination Plus

The seven factors powering Verstappen's 2022 F1 domination

After a tooth and nail and, at times, toxic Formula 1 world championship scrap last year, Max Verstappen's march to a second consecutive title has been the exact opposite. But has he really changed in 2022? Here's a dive into what factors have played a crucial role, both inside the Verstappen camp and elsewhere, in the Dutch driver's domination

Formula 1
Sep 23, 2022
Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward Plus

Why Hamilton is still the man to keep driving Mercedes forward

Lewis Hamilton’s words in a recent Vanity Fair interview define both his world-view and his approach to this season: one of perpetual struggle against adversity. As GP RACING explains, that’s what Lewis feeds off – and why, far from being down and nearly out, he’s using his unique skillset to spearhead Mercedes’ revival…

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight Plus

The time lag of ideas that offers intrigue over F1's future fight

The pecking order in 2022's Formula 1 season may look pretty static as the season draws to a close, but the unique nature of the cost cap means that preparation for next season takes precedence. New developments are being pushed back to 2023 - which could mask the technical development war ongoing...

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2022
How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars Plus

How one retro event could prove an alluring prospect for Formula 1 stars

While Formula 1 drivers taking part in retro events can prove costly, as Charles Leclerc discovered at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix, the Goodwood Revival could prove an interesting experiment for today's stars. As the event's own Tourist Trophy race proves it means serious business, a race for current F1 drivers feels as though it’s in line with where the event is currently at

Goodwood Revival
Sep 21, 2022