Villeneuve Seeking McLaren Test Role

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve has personally called the McLaren team about a Formula One testing role after losing his drive with BAR.

Villeneuve Seeking McLaren Test Role

Former champion Jacques Villeneuve has personally called the McLaren team about a Formula One testing role after losing his drive with BAR.

"We have been approached by Jacques Villeneuve with regards to a role with the team in 2004," a spokeswoman said today. "However, no meaningful discussions have taken place."

The spokeswoman said that it had been Villeneuve himself, and not his manager Craig Pollock, who had contacted McLaren.

Villeneuve, the 1997 World Champion for Williams, is without a drive for next season after being replaced at BAR by Japan's Takuma Sato. The 32-year-old Canadian did not compete in this month's season-ending Japanese Grand Prix after asking to be released by BAR and has not spoken publicly about his plans since then.

However his manager Pollock, who runs a CART team, was quoted in Australia at the weekend as saying that Villeneuve would test for McLaren next year and race for another team in 2005.

Britain's Motorsport News weekly on Wednesday reported speculation that Pollock might be planning to put together an all-American team for 2005, possibly with Mercedes engines badged as Chrysler. Mercedes are McLaren's Formula One partners.

McLaren currently have two official test drivers, Austrian Alexander Wurz and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa. Wurz has been persistently linked to Jaguar as a likely teammate for Australian Mark Webber next year.

The McLaren test job has been a useful springboard for drivers seeking to keep their careers alive. France's Olivier Panis took it in 2000 after losing his seat at Prost and went on to return to racing with BAR and Toyota. McLaren were third overall last season with Finland's Kimi Raikkonen runner-up in the Drivers' Championship.

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