JV says F1 return was no waste

Jacques Villeneuve has insisted that his three-race return with Renault was not a complete waste of time - even though he failed to score a single point for the French car manufacturer

JV says F1 return was no waste

The former world champion took time to fully get up to speed with the race pace required in modern Formula 1 and failed to match the performance of team-mate Fernando Alonso as Renault lost its fight with rivals BAR for second place in the constructors' championship.

But despite not delivering what was expected of him, Villeneuve claims that the three-race stint was of a huge personal benefit as he gears up for a full-time return in F1 with Sauber in 2005.

"It was very useful for me to prepare my next season," said Villeneuve looking back on his experience in China, Japan and Brazil. "Unfortunately there were no points to celebrate, but at least in Brazil I was competitive.

"At the end of the race [in Interlagos] there were 24 seconds between Fernando and I and that was the gap he opened in the first few laps when the track favoured the tyre choice he had made.

"To get back into action was good for the physical side and the mental side. It's good to have an opportunity before winter testing and to find out where I am in comparison with others."

Although Villeneuve joined Alonso in starting the Brazilian Grand Prix on dry tyres, he was unable to match the pace of his team-mate because he was on the harder compound - which took longer to get up to operating temperature in the damp conditions.

"I did a good start, but then I got passed by a couple of cars and found myself on the wrong line, so I lost more places," explained Villeneuve about his race. "In the first five laps it was very difficult to keep a good rhythm and then I was too far back to make an impact.

"On the hard tyres it was far more difficult for me on the early laps than it was for Fernando, who was on the soft tyres. But we couldn't have known that when we chose the tyres on Friday night.

"With the second set of tyres we were quicker, so it was the right choice for normal conditions."

Villeneuve is due to start testing for Sauber at the end of November, when Formula 1's annual winter testing ban comes to an end.

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