Richards wanted Villeneuve to race

BAR boss David Richards has admitted that he wanted Jacques Villeneuve to drive for the team in the Japanese Grand Prix - although he is confident that Takuma Sato will put in a strong performance despite his last minute call-up

Richards wanted Villeneuve to race

Villeneuve decided not to race at Suzuka following Tuesday's announcement that Sato would replace him at BAR next year. Richards was informed of the Canadian's decision by his manager, Craig Pollock, this morning (Thursday).

"It is inappropriate that I go into detail until I have spoken to Jacques personally, but he has always been superb as this track," said Richards. "It is one of his better circuits but if a driver is not in the right frame of mind then you cannot put that on him. With Taku sitting in the wings on his home circuit, we could not have a better standby."

Talking about the decision to replace Villeneuve next year, Richards said: "The team has not lived up to anyone's expectations and under those circumstances you have to change things. It is insanity to do the same thing year after year and expect different results. Quite frankly we had to shake things up.

"I would say the seeds were sewn, if we are truthful about it, when we signed Takuma as a test driver a year ago. We had a clear option in his agreement for him to drive next year and there is no secret about that. He has been working very closely with the test team and doing an excellent job, so it wasn't just a decision made by me."

Richards reckons the money the team will be boosted by the money its saves on Villeneuve's salary, believes to be second only to Michael Schumacher's in F1.

"Hopefully it will have a very positive effect," he said. "The cost management inside an F1 team is a very tricky business. Where do you spend it best: is it the aerodynamics department, is it testing? But I am quite convinced that (technical director) Geoff Willis will spend the money very wisely. It's significant."

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