Villeneuve Unfazed by Speculation

Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve shrugged off speculation about his Formula One future on Thursday, saying he still has what it takes to be a contender

Villeneuve Unfazed by Speculation

"I haven't read it, haven't seen it, don't care," the Canadian said when asked about a report in Britain's Autosport magazine that his Sauber team had contacted BAR reserve driver Anthony Davidson as a possible replacement should Villeneuve fail to meet performance clauses.

"We're working hard, there's no problem internally so I don't really care what's written," he told reporters at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Villeneuve's position has been questioned after the 1997 champion was one of the slowest drivers at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 6.

Favoured by the weather, he qualified fourth on his Sauber debut but finished 13th. Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa started at the back of the grid but ended up 10th despite driving a heavier car on a one-stop strategy.

Villeneuve, who has long been one of the more controversial and independent-minded figures in the sport, said criticism was to be expected but felt he had nothing to prove to his detractors.

"If I do this job, if I race, it's because I love racing, I love the competition," said the 33-year-old. "And I don't want to be racing at the back so I'll be working as hard as I can to get closer to the front."

Asked point-blank whether he still had what it takes after being dropped by BAR in 2003 and failing to score points in three comeback races with Renault last year, he replied: "Obviously. If not I would have stayed home."

Little Testing

The Canadian said Sauber were suffering from a lack of testing mileage as well as having no third car for Friday practice at race weekends despite being entitled to one.

"The bad winter testing I think is affecting us at this point. We had mechanical problems on the tracks whenever it was warm and then when we got to Imola we got half a day and we got snowed in," said Villeneuve.

"We just arrived in Melbourne not ready, not really understanding the car and how it works and that will take a bit of time."

Braking systems were another difficulty.

"F1 has evolved a lot over the last few years and mainly on the electronic side and it takes a while to get used to everything that's happening in the car," he said.

"The other thing is that with all the electronics out now, you don't feel everything that is happening. You become a little bit of a passenger in a race car and that's very different to what I'm used to."

Villeneuve said the team had also got the tyres wrong in Melbourne after expecting heavy wear.

"The rear tyres never went off, we just carried a huge amount of under steer the whole race," he said. "That was partly due to the fact that we never did a race simulation because we were supposed to do that in Imola."

 

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