Villeneuve Responds to Richards' Shoot-Out Idea

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve has responded to his BAR team boss David Richards after the Briton said the team could carry out a shoot-out to decide who drives the second car in 2004.

Villeneuve Responds to Richards' Shoot-Out Idea

Canadian Jacques Villeneuve has responded to his BAR team boss David Richards after the Briton said the team could carry out a shoot-out to decide who drives the second car in 2004.

Richards told British newspapers that the Canadian could be asked to take part in a televised shoot-out with other candidates to decide who partners Briton Jenson Button next season.

"It is an interesting way of finding out who can perform," he told The Express. "We're talking about something more technical and detailed, but it is an intriguing idea. My job is to find the fastest and best driver for BAR Honda. It's not just a gimmick.

"There are a range of options open to us and it is an exciting idea if we can make it work."

Villeneuve, the 1997 champion with Williams and son of the late Ferrari great Gilles Villeneuve, has no deal for 2004 and is fighting for his Formula One future with most other teams having no vacancies.

Button's girlfriend Louise Griffiths recently took part in a reality television Fame Academy talent show and newspapers quoted Richards as saying the format, with contenders voted out by the audience, had possibilities.

"Formula One is supposed to be a sport," Villeneuve told the Press Association responding to Richards' idea. "I have never worked so hard in my life. If my attitude is a problem then there is no attitude change that could convince David."

It would not be the first time a drive has been decided by a 'shoot-out' between drivers, although they have been conducted in private. Button made his Formula One debut in 2000 after beating Brazilian Bruno Junqueira in a head-to-head to replace Italian Alex Zanardi at Williams.

However both were young and inexperienced, whereas Villeneuve, free-spirited and straight-talking, is the only champion apart from Michael Schumacher in Formula One and could see such a test as a humiliation too far.

Generally considered the second highest paid driver in Formula One, despite not having won a race since 1997, he said at the weekend that Honda were pushing hard for Japanese test driver Takuma Sato to take his place.

There are no Japanese drivers in Formula One and Honda-backed Sato, hugely popular at home, is seen as their best prospect yet after a year with Jordan in 2002.

"Jacques is not out of the equation, but we have all told him it will take significant changes of attitude to convince us that he is the driver we need in our team," The Times newspaper quoted Richards as saying after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Villeneuve, 32, finished sixth at Monza, doubling his season's points tally.

"We are not trying to sanitise the guy completely, but he has to face up to the responsibilities of being a lead driver in a top Formula One team."

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