Sauber respects me, says JV

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has taken a swipe at his treatment by Williams and BAR this season after explaining why he has chosen to join Sauber for 2005

Sauber respects me, says JV

The French-Canadian, who is poised to make his Formula 1 return with Renault in the Chinese Grand Prix, claimed that his decision to sign for Sauber had been motivated in part because he had been treated with full respect by team boss Peter Sauber. It was hinted that this was in complete contrast to the way his attempts to deal with Williams and BAR over deals for next year had gone, having been pushing hard since early this year to make his full-time return in 2005.

Speaking after a full day's testing with Renault, Villeneuve said: "With Sauber we have not been talking that long and it is the only team that has treated me seriously and with respect - compared to everyone else I have been talking to since March.

"It made a huge difference and I wanted to get into a non-political team, so I am very happy about that."

Villeneuve first made contact with Sauber after the Hungarian Grand Prix, and following attempts to get himself back into Williams and BAR both failed, he swiftly reached agreement on a deal that should net him a £2 million salary and around £28,000 per point. News of the deal was exclusively broken by autosport.com prior to the Italian Grand Prix.

And apart from the chance to work with a team that respected him,
Villeneuve said he was impressed by Sauber's state-of-the-art wind-tunnel - one of the very best in F1.

"What made the difference was the wind-tunnel," he admitted. "Of course right now it is not a team that is fighting at the front, but if you can work positively then it's a two-year deal so there is time to do something good.

"It doesn't mean we will win races - we will need luck for that - but if you can keep improving and you are happy working then that is great. The wind-tunnel that Sauber has is very impressive and I am sure some things can be done."

The other obvious attraction for Sauber is its close links with Ferrari - which have fuelled some suggestions that Villeneuve could try and use the team as a springboard to race for the world championship winning Italian outfit. The man himself, though, is not sure.

"I don't know how big the connection [between Ferrari and Sauber is] but it seems to be very good, so that is nice. But I am not joining a team thinking it will bring me to another team afterwards. That would be the wrong way of working."

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