JV's return will flop says Richards

Jacques Villeneuve's full-time return to Formula 1 will ultimately prove a disappointment, claims the man who dropped him from BAR at the end of last year

JV's return will flop says Richards

BAR boss David Richards spent time chatting with Villeneuve after the Chinese Grand Prix but believes that the former world champion's return will not deliver the kind of glory enjoyed by similar high profile comebacks in the past - including Niki Lauda and Alain Prost who both won titles after time out of the sport.

Villeneuve has been signed by Renault for the rest of the season as the team bids to beat BAR in the fight for second place in the constructors' championship, and he also has agreed a two-year contract with Sauber.

"When you have been a world champion, people expect you to come back at the same level but it is difficult to be competitive when you have had a year out of an F1 car," Richards told The Times after seeing Villeneuve finish 11th in China. "I cannot see Jacques threatening anybody next season.

"I know racing drivers have successfully had comebacks in the past, but these days we need younger drivers. Youth is the great new thing in F1 and we plan to continue investing in young drivers."

Richards' pro-youth comments could be viewed as an indirect boost to BAR third driver Anthony Davidson - who remains in contention for a race seat at the team next year if it is unsuccessful in its fight to keep hold of Jenson Button.

Villeneuve himself said he was not too disappointed with how his Chinese Grand Prix weekend went - and believes he will be much better prepared for the next race in Japan.

"I learned a lot during the race and got much more familiar with the car," he said. "The car got a lot better as the track rubbered in and I could attack more, plus I had the chance to work with the traction control and differential settings during the race to improve the handling, adjusting the car as the conditions changed.

"Looking ahead to Suzuka, I am feeling good - I know the circuit well, and I don't think we will have any problems with our pace in qualifying or the race."

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