Villeneuve Plays Down Sauber Decision

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve has played down his Sauber team's decision to cut his running short in testing at the Barcelona circuit this week

Speaking exclusively to Autosport-Atlas earlier today, Villeneuve was visibly angry with the team's decision to call in teammate Felipe Massa to replace him for the final two days of work at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

Villeneuve was scheduled to test for two days, the Canadian previously admitting he needs all the time he can get in the car to raise his game following a disappointing start to the season.

The former World Champion was unhappy with his only day of work this week after he endured a very troubled session and finished slowest.

"Out of the three days planned, I was supposed to drive the first two, allowing us a fair amount of time as there also was a lot a team specific tests to be done on the car," explained Villeneuve in a statement released today.

"Unfortunately, my engineer and myself did not manage do get through our set-up program and development of new ideas as I suffered a brake failure in the first morning run.

"At this point, with the few hours remaining we judged the 'team specific work' a priority (even though we did not have the right set-up or car balance at the time) and we would use the 2nd day to concentrate on speed and set-up related work. We also decided to spend the rest of the day on old tyres, saving the new ones for day two of our test.

"The team then decided at the end of the day to change the testing plan: I was told that it has been predicted bad weather and a lot of rain on Friday, so the team changed the running schedule to allow Felipe to drive on the dry today.

"Therefore, we did not get the chance to focus on all the set-up work needed in preparation for Imola. It's a shame as new tyres, different fuel loads and a more rubbered track on the second day of the test would have been faster and closer conditions to what the Barcelona race weekend will be."

Despite his problems, however, Villeneuve played down Sauber's decision and said he was not concerned about rumours claiming his position at the Swiss squad is not safe.

"I am sure this situation will fire on a new set of rumours but we are used to them and it certainly won't affect our work," he added. "At this time we are trying our hardest to get the car on the pace which has been a disappointment to us all so far."

Villeneuve also admitted he expected to continue to struggle in the following race, the San Marino Grand Prix.

"Sadly, Imola will be a continuation of the first three races instead of getting the step-up we were expecting after a productive test.

"Another disappointment adding up to the one following Bahrain last weekend where with Gian-Paolo, my engineer, and I started to understand the car better. But hopefully the next test in Fiorano will enable us to concentrate on our work".

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