Silence from the Villeneuve camp

In the absence of any official statement from Jacques Villeneuve and his non-appearance at Suzuka, the Canadian press at Suzuka are wondering whether to draw a line under the 1997 world champion's career or not

Silence from the Villeneuve camp

Instead, newsmen were left to ask opinions of the last two technical directors to have worked with Villeneuve.

"I have to say that it's a long time since we worked together," said Patrick Head at Williams. "I'd actually say that Jacques' best year was 1996. He was very individual, willing to try very different set-ups, and he very nearly won his first Grand Prix and also the championship in his first year.

"In '97 though, when he did win the championship, he made it unnecesasarily hard work in a car that I would say was quite a margin superior to Michael Schumacher's.

"At that time, if I said: 'you are running a bit stiff, I think you should soften the car off a bit', he was likely to look across at Jock Clear (his race engineer) and tell him that he wanted to run stiffer in the afternoon...

"He is quite a perverse fellow and his attitiude is kind of: I'll show you I can do it my way. He made bloody hard work of '97 but he is a really talented and fast driver, there is no doubt about that."

Geoff Willis, who left Williams to become BAR's technical director last year, added: "Jacques is very robust and quite bright, so he can be seen to be quite assertive. He's open and, in terms of tactical input, he takes a lot of time thinking about what's happening, especially in the race. He is inclined to be his own man and perhaps because of that, can be a bit difficult.

"This year the team did not help with unreliability, but he's certainly always tried hard and given a lot of commitment. I think he's probably a more rounded driver now than in the days when he won the world championship."

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