Villeneuve Says Honda Want Sato to Replace Him

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve fears his days as a Formula One driver could be numbered, with BAR's partners Honda pushing for Japan's Takuma Sato to replace him next season.

Villeneuve Says Honda Want Sato to Replace Him

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve fears his days as a Formula One driver could be numbered, with BAR's partners Honda pushing for Japan's Takuma Sato to replace him next season.

"There is no inkling of an offer coming from anywhere and there hasn't been an offer from BAR either," the BBC quoted the Canadian driver as saying after he finished sixth in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

"It is late and there is no good news so there is no reason to be optimistic. I am working hard on it and I know a lot of people are working hard on it but there are also people working hard against it," added Villeneuve, who won his 1997 title with Williams.

"No decision has been officially taken by the team and it doesn't look too good but that doesn't mean it is finished. I guess it depends on who wins the battle but there is a big push for Sato coming from Honda."

Sato, hugely popular in Japan, is BAR's test driver after a crash-strewn debut season with Jordan in 2002 when they used Honda engines. Villeneuve's future is a major talking point in the Grand Prix paddock, with most other teams having already finalised their line-ups for 2004.

"It doesn't matter what you achieve, people will see what they want," said the Canadian, whose teammate is Briton Jenson Button.

"If they are positive with you they will see the one good thing you have done in 10 years but if they want to be against you they will see the one bad thing you have done even if the rest of the time you have been doing good things."

Villeneuve, asked at the weekend about speculation that he might even be replaced for the final race at Suzuka where Sato finished fifth last year, said he knew of no such plan but would not be surprised.

"Because you kind of know who is pushing for whom," he said.

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