Villeneuve Frustrated by Lack of Pace

Even if hope does spring eternal, Canadian Jacques Villeneuve's well of optimism is running dry

Villeneuve Frustrated by Lack of Pace

Criticised by team boss Peter Sauber for his race performances, and with his future the subject of continuing speculation, the 1997 Formula One champion returned to his home Grand Prix paddock on Thursday with little to raise the spirits.

Asked by local reporters whether he had made up his mind about his future after 2006, when his two-year contract with the Swiss team expires, Villeneuve made no attempt to talk up his prospects.

"No idea," he replied. "If it continues like this year, there won't be much choice."

Villeneuve, Canada's only World Champion and son of the late Ferrari great Gilles, has enough problems with the here and now to resolve first.

Despite his contract for next year, there are still persistent rumours that he will be replaced before then - particularly if BMW become Sauber's engine partners.

"Rumours are part of everyday racing," said Villeneuve. "There's always been a lot of rumours.

"I guess it's easy to make rumours because there've been rumours about people getting more involved in the team and who knows, with money people think they can start buying anything out," he added.

Never Fast

Even if he has scored more points more than Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa, thanks to a fourth place at Imola in April, Villeneuve's performances in the Ferrari-powered Sauber have been far from impressive.

He said however that the car was the main problem.

"It's just not fast enough," he told a news conference at the circuit named after his father.

"We are all disappointed with how uncompetitive we are because as soon as we bolted the Michelin tyres on the car at the end of last year the car was extremely fast.

"Then the new car was never fast and nobody really seems to know why...there is very little we can do.

"We don't have the budget to just try different suspensions or redesign stuff so we are stuck with what we have and that's how it will be until the end of the season."

He said he had no regrets about joining Sauber, however.

"I am much happier to be racing than to be at home watching on TV," he said.

Villeneuve also suggested that his present difficulties paled into comparison with those of his final seasons at BAR when he had a difficult relationship with team boss David Richards.

"I feel a lot better than I did two years ago," he said. "The last two years at BAR were hell, so anything is better than that. It wasn't because of the car or the people, it wasn't the engineer or the mechanics.

"It was only down to one person who was on a mission at the time to discredit me," he said.

"That made life very difficult. The year off has allowed me to take a breather, to see what was going on and relax, to come back and not be affected by stuff like that any more."

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