JV not showing true colours, says Clear

Jock Clear, the long-time race engineer of 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, says the French-Canadian is performing under his limit because British American Racing can't give him a car capable of challenging for race victories

JV not showing true colours, says Clear

Clear believes that Villeneuve has not been able to use "that special something" which guided him to the '97 world title because his BAR-Honda is well off the pace of Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Williams-BMW.

"I think that there's that special something inside Jacques that he's not using at the moment," Clear told Villeneuve's website, JV-World.com. "It's still there, and we all know it's still there, but drivers of his talent only have a finite amount of that something special. I think if you asked them to use that something out of the ordinary just to qualify ninth rather than 11th then you would be abusing that talent.

"[Heinz-Harald] Frentzen was a relatively good team-mate in 1997, but I think that the smell of blood that came with going for a championship just brought out that something special that Jacques has.

"Perhaps I'm being unfair, but I think that if we develop this car next year, and we're in the position that Williams are currently in and fighting for pole position, then I think that both Olivier [Panis] and Jacques know who the guy going for pole position will be. You'll suddenly see a half a second difference between them because Jacques has that special talent - but you can't ask people with that talent to produce it week-in, week-out, as otherwise you'll grind them down and take the edge out of that driver."

Clear says that Villeneuve has changed his priorities since joining BAR in 1999, which has altered his approach to the way he works with the team.

"I think that he is now hungry to develop the car, to take the team to the next level, and that requires a completely different skill," he said. "It doesn't mean going out and putting yourself on the line every time and then only qualifying ninth. I think he recognises that he needs to be putting pressure on the team, and the teams around us, and that requires a fair amount of control from him."

Despite the lack of progress, of which Villeneuve spoke out about at Silverstone recently, Clear says they continue to be driven on by the task at hand.

"I came to BAR to give Jacques a chance of winning the championship with a team we've built," said Clear. "The satisfaction of building a championship winning team would be fantastic and that's why we're doing it. No one expected us to win the World Championship in three years but that doesn't mean to say that three years on we're not all massively frustrated - but that frustration also drives us on."

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