Villeneuve Fears he May Not Make it to Japan

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve painted an uncertain Formula One future for himself on Friday, saying he would not be surprised if BAR replaced him before the end of the season.

Villeneuve Fears he May Not Make it to Japan

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve painted an uncertain Formula One future for himself on Friday, saying he would not be surprised if BAR replaced him before the end of the season.

Asked about rumours that BAR test driver Takuma Sato might get a chance in front of his home crowd in the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix, the 1997 World Champion was cagey.

"It's not in the plans, at least ... not that I'm aware of, but nothing would surprise me," he told reporters after opening qualifying for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. "Because you kind of know who is pushing for whom."

Sato raced for Jordan last season when they had Honda engines and is closely linked to the Japanese manufacturer who are BAR's partners. He finished fifth at Suzuka on his home debut.

Villeneuve, whose best finish so far this season was fifth in Germany, is negotiating with BAR to renew his contract but said his future was still up in the air.

"There's nothing concrete yet, there's just will more than anything right now," the bespectacled 32-year-old said. "I've no idea if I can be optimistic. It's a very difficult situation so I really have no idea, it's all out there."

Villeneuve, World Champion with Williams, has not won a race since his move to BAR four years ago.

His market value has sunk even though many pundits believe he would be challenging for the title behind the wheel of a more competitive car. Villeneuve, a former CART champion, confirmed that BAR was his only Formula One option but hinted at offers from further afield.

"Actually there's more interest in other areas than from F1," he said. "I'm sure there's something out there that could be very interesting but I haven't thought about it yet."

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