Villeneuve: Life at Sauber to Improve

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve says his life at the Sauber team will be easier after scoring his first points of the season with a strong performance at the San Marino Grand Prix

Villeneuve: Life at Sauber to Improve

His sixth place finish gave him his first points since 2003 on Sunday and the former World Champion breathed a sigh of relief after weeks of speculation about his Formula One future.

Villeneuve, the 1997 champion for Williams, has been pilloried for his mediocre performances in his first three races for Sauber.

Even friend and race rival David Coulthard had predicted that the 34-year-old, who started his comeback with Renault late last year after being dropped by BAR in 2003, could walk away or be pushed out should he fail to improve his form at Imola.

The Canadian believes his strong showing will help smooth his relationship with Sauber, but he is aware that rumours will resurface if he struggles again.

"It was not a question of proving (anything)," said the Canadian. "Another week or two, one bad race or one bad day and everything will be bad again, the rumours will start again, and everything like that, you know.

"I don't think it changes much, but it makes life a lot easier for the future and also, internally, with the team, it will make it easier to work.

"It was not only a full race, it was a race where the car worked the whole race, you could be aggressive and work on the strategies and everything and it was fun."

Villeneuve's manager and former BAR team boss Craig Pollock said the Canadian driver had taken everything in his stride.

"It is a bit of a relief because we had confidence that it was all still there, there was no reason why not, and now he's been able to turn off a few critics," he told Reuters.

"He knows it's still in him but he just had to wait for the right race and luckily it came here. We always said his season would start in Imola.

"If it (the criticism) doesn't die down now then its pretty pathetic," added Pollock. "You saw a very strong race and it wasn't just one or two laps, it was very consistent throughout the race."

Pollock said, however, that taking the pressure off was of secondary importance.

"What this shows is that the team have made a big step forward aerodynamically. I think there is a lot in that," he said.

"They've also made a big step forward in the fact that they listened to Jacques and let him set his car up which has given him the possibility of attacking."

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