BAR considers driver competition

BAR considers driver competition

Who will partner Jenson Button at BAR next season has been a subject of much discussion recently and team boss David Richards is considering a shoot-out style competition to resolve the situation. Button's current teammate Jacques Villeneuve has...

Who will partner Jenson Button at BAR next season has been a subject of much discussion recently and team boss David Richards is considering a shoot-out style competition to resolve the situation. Button's current teammate Jacques Villeneuve has made no secret of the fact that his future is looking uncertain, amid speculation that BAR's engine partner Honda is keen for Takuma Sato to return to a racing seat.

Jacques Villeneuve and David Richards.
Photo by Honda F1 Press Office.
The idea of an elimination type competition came up after Button's girlfriend Louise Griffiths took part in television's Fame Academy, where contestants have to impress in order to reach the final. BAR's tenuous idea is for drivers to fight it out over the winter, with the winner claiming the race seat for 2004. Whether Villeneuve would be expected to take part, or if his negotiations with the team are a seperate consideration, is unclear.

Driving skills would not be the only consideration; the competitors would also be judged on such areas as fitness and the ability to handle public relations.

"It is no coincidence that the thought was triggered while we followed Louise's progress in the Academy," Richards told the British press. "We are looking to see if this kind of shoot-out would be a viable solution. The idea seemed intriguing for our purposes."

"Of course, at the end of the day it is my responsibility to see that the team has the fastest and best driver we can find, and not just a gimmick. There are a whole range of options open to us, but this one is an exciting idea if we can make it work."

Villeneuve has been with BAR since it joined F1 in 1999 and Richards hasn't written him out of the team just yet. However, the boss wants some changes from the Canadian to convince him that he should stay.

"Jacques is not out of the equation," Richards commented. "But we have all told him it will take significant changes of attitude to convince us that he is the driver we need in our team. We are not trying to sanitise the guy completely, but he has to face up to the responsibilities of being a lead driver in a top Formula 1 team."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards