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WEC Sebring

Villeneuve "not worried" about getting on pace in Vanwall at Sebring

Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is confident he can get up to speed in the Vanwall Le Mans Hypercar ahead of this week’s World Endurance Championship opener at Sebring.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Jacques Villeneuve

The French-Canadian, F1 champion with Williams in 1997, admitted that he is still short of laps in the Vanwall-Gibson Vandervell 680 as he prepares for his return to prototype racing in Friday’s Sebring 1000 Miles, but stressed that he just needs time in the car “to figure it all out”.

“I’ve always got on the pace in whatever I’ve driven,” Villeneuve told Autosport.

“I’m not worried: it’s just a question of getting time in the car and understanding the car.

“This is not an easy track to get used to a new car, to learn about it and then get up to speed.”

Villeneuve, who is driving the Vanwall together with Tom Dillmann and Esteban Guerrieri, revealed that his only test in the Vanwall prior to his arrival in Sebring at Barcelona back at the end of November was nothing more than a short exploratory run.

“I did two runs and then went home; I didn’t do many laps,” said the 51-year-old, whose previous full season of racing came in the NASCAR Euro Series in 2019.

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“It was just a few laps to see how the car was before I sat down with the team to decide how we moved forward.”

Villeneuve was unable to attend the Vanwall Racing team’s final test of the 2022 before it concentrated on the homologation of the car in the opening months of this year.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Jacques Villeneuve

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Jacques Villeneuve

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

He then completed only 29 laps in the car over the course of the Prologue, the WEC’s official pre-season test last Saturday and Sunday.

Villenueve was meant to undertake a long run on Sunday morning, but a clash with GTE Am Ferrari meant it had to be cut short.

He was six seconds off the pace of Dillmann in the Prologue, but shaved four seconds from his best time in the opening session of free practice on Wednesday morning.

He described it as his “first proper run in the car”, adding that “I could finally get into a rhythm for the first time”.

Villeneuve’s best time in the Prologue was a 1m56.552s, which compared with Dillmann’s 1m50.038s.

He got down to a 1m52.441s during a 17-lap run in first free practice, 1.4 seconds off Guerrieri’s pace.

In the hotter conditions of FP2 on Wednesday afternoon, Villeneuve posted a 1m53.601s over the course a seven-lap run.

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