Villeneuve's engineer says he'll be back

The man closest to Jacques Villeneuve since he came into Formula 1, race engineer Jock Clear, thinks the 1997 World Champion has not finished with F1

Villeneuve's engineer says he'll be back

One suggestion in Suzuka was that Villeneuve's non-appearance in the final race of the season had its root in mentor Craig Pollock's knowledge of Jacques' psyche. Jacques father, Gilles, went to Zolder in 1982 carrying the emotional baggage of what he considered to be a betrayal from team mate Didier Pironi a fortnight earlier. He was determined to humiliate Pironi in Zolder, took a risk in qualifying, and was killed. Villeneuve is the same age as his father was then and, Pollock knew, upset at having been dropped by BAR in favour of Takuma Sato.

"I've never thought of it exactly that way," Clear said on Sunday night, "but Jacques did say to me: 'my heart's not in it, I'm not focused and that's when you get hurt.' Those were his words. He's the kind of man who's big enough to take all the flak that missing this weekend is going to throw at him. He'll lie in bed and think: I'm still alive and I didn't take the risk that I didn't need to."

Clear thinks he will be back. "Absolutely. People are saying to me that it's so sad for him to go this way but in his mind that isn't the end. He'll be back and he should be back."

In the meantime, Clear has committed his own future to BAR.

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