Peugeot initiated Villeneuve talks

Peugeot's team manager Serge Saulnier has said that he initiated the manufacturer's contact with Jacques Villeneuve

Peugeot initiated Villeneuve talks

The 1997 Formula One world champion was confirmed as part of Peugeot's driver line-up for the Le Mans 24 Hours on Wednesday morning, and Saulnier said that he was aware the Canadian wanted to win the race in his career.

"Jacques is someone who has won in every competition he has undertaken," said Saulnier. "I'm thinking in particular of the Indianapolis 500 and the Formula One world championship.

"I like his sporting spirit and I knew that he'd dreamed of taking part at Le Mans. When I contacted him, he convinced me that he could be the first driver to win the Formula One world championship, Champ Car title, Indianapolis 500, and Le Mans 24 Hours."

Saulnier added that Peugeot did not make their driver decisions based on profile, and he said that they had specific qualities that they were looking for.

"We were looking for drivers that have speed, of course, but also consistency," he said.

"We need drivers that know how to get the best from the vehicle in all conditions, especially changes in the track, while being able to master traffic, and someone who is in excellent physical condition.

"I initially looked at those from Formula One or the young ex-F1 drivers, and there are not that many of them who have these qualities."

Saulnier added that Peugeot were contacted by several drivers who compete in the GP Masters series, and expressed his surprise at the lack of interest from younger drivers.

While Peugeot were never going to have an entirely French team, Saulnier had first looked at trying to sign a German and a British driver.

"It's obvious that a manufacturer such as Peugeot cannot have a wholly French team in such a large scale programme," he said.

"Nevertheless I had no particular guidelines. To start with I set my sights on a German and English driver, but a lot of them were signed up to drive in Formula One."

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