BAR boss David Richards doubts that Jacques Villeneuve will be a threat on track in 2005 and believes that young drivers are a better option than the more experienced hands. Villeneuve made his Formula One return with Renault at the Chinese Grand...
BAR boss David Richards doubts that Jacques Villeneuve will be a threat on track in 2005 and believes that young drivers are a better option than the more experienced hands. Villeneuve made his Formula One return with Renault at the Chinese Grand Prix after a year away from competition. He last raced with BAR, a partnership that ended acrimoniously at the close of the 2003 season.
The Canadian former champion was taken on by Renault to replace Jarno Trulli for the last three races of this year and only had a brief test at Silverstone before Shanghai. Villeneuve started 12th on the grid and finished in 11th position; he spent the end of the race fighting to get past Jaguar's Mark Webber.
"There are no hard feelings between me and Jacques and it was good to see him after the post-race party, but results speak for themselves," said Richards, according to the UK's Times newspaper. "Jaguar is not the fastest car on the circuit, but Jacques could not pass Webber to move up a place. Jacques has a hard job on his hands."
Very few drivers take a break from F1 then make a successful return and with Villeneuve being a former titleholder, the expectation on him is higher. "When you have been a world champion, people expect you to come back at the same level, but it is difficult to be competitive when you have had a year out of a Formula One car," said Richards.
"I cannot see Jacques threatening anybody next season. I know racing drivers have successfully had comebacks in the past, but these days we need younger drivers. Youth is the great new thing in Formula One and we plan to continue investing in young drivers."
Villeneuve, who will race for Sauber next year, did not expect a stellar result in his first race back but was fairly happy with how it went, once he got to grips with racing being faster now than a year ago. "It is a lot faster from the very first lap -- and that just caught me out," he admitted.
"But by the second half of the race things were going much better and I was a lot more comfortable with my pace and could really begin to push. Also, as the race unfolded, I started getting an idea of some of the directions we can pursue with the set-up in Suzuka."
Richards' comments about young drivers might not be good news for David Coulthard, who was thought to be one of the contenders for Jenson Button's seat at BAR, presuming Button does move to Williams next season. At 33, the Scot is at the older end of the F1 age range.