Richards unperturbed at driver spat

BAR-Honda team principal David Richards said he is unconcerned at the post-Melbourne spat between drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Jenson Button, which has spilled over to Malaysia

Richards unperturbed at driver spat

Button was critical of Villeneuve after the season opener in Australia, with some negative comment even finding its way onto the normally sanitised official team press release.

In Sepang, Villeneuve told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I was hugely disappointed to be blasted by my team mate in the media when coming out of the car he was all smiley and shaking hands. I found that a little bit weak but I guess that's what I've got to cope with now, a weak team mate..."

The '97 world champion added: "It's also the team's job to make sure that stuff like that doesn't go in press releases, so the marketing and media department was not up to standard by allowing it to happen."

Various explanations have been cited for the pair pitting on the same lap in Melbourne, from Villeneuve deliberately messing up Button's race to his radio earpieces falling out so that he was not in radio contact. Richards confirmed: "One of the ear pieces wasn't working but every team has radio problems at times and Jacques, certainly, is very sensitive on the hearing side and has the volume turned down."

Richards denied that the spat was damaging for BAR: "You have to accept that a driver's biggest rival is going to be his team mate," he said. "They can both now see that they have a competitive car and they can both prove themselves. There is a lot at stake and clearly they are both highly competitive, so ructions are going to happen. And as long as the engineers still co-operate and the team still functions very well, then it's not an issue."

Not even when Villeneuve criticises the marketing and PR department? "I'm sure they are thick-skinned enough to take that sort of criticism..." Richards smiled.

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