Jacques Villeneuve answers questions on BAR boss Dave Richards, changes within the team and his committment to racing. Q: In December David Richards replaced Craig Pollock as the Team Principal at Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda. Since then you seem to...
Jacques Villeneuve answers questions on BAR boss Dave Richards, changes within the team and his committment to racing.
Q: In December David Richards replaced Craig Pollock as the Team Principal at Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda. Since then you seem to be trying very hard to make things work. Do you see it that way?
Jacques Villenueve: I always look forward. If it doesn't work, then it's bad for me, so why should I spite myself? There's no need. David didn't do anything directly to Craig. It wasn't related, so why should I have anything against him? We get along. He's trying to work hard and make this team successful, and I'm trying to do the same thing.
Q: Is he your kind of guy, someone you can work with?
Q: Is it important to be friendly with the people you work with? I never work well in a strictly business relationship. I only work well with people with whom you can build a kind of friendship, or some mutual respect.
Q: Do you agree that changes needed to be made?
JV: It doesn't matter how good or bad someone is, if you're going to change the way something is run, then you have to change the people - even the good ones - and start fresh. If something doesn't go well, the one who gets the sack is the one at the top. That's natural human law, and that's the way it works. But that doesn't mean that I don't want to work well with David. Something good can be done with this team, so we have to work hard at it.
Q: Are you happy with the changes so far?
JV: So far I'm totally behind everything that's happened to the team. The appointment of Geoffrey Willis was something that I was always pushing for. I've always had a lot of respect for him. And with those extra years of experience, I think he's even better now than when I was at Williams.
Q: Are these changes going to bring benefits early enough to help you?
JV: There will be benefits this year. But if the benefits take us from being comfortably 12th to comfortably 7th, it still leaves us with no points. The benefit has to be big enough that it puts us in the points.
Q: Where does your future lie?
Q: It's five years since you won the World Championship. Are you a better driver now?
JV: Yes. I think if I were in the '97 Williams now, I would probably win more races than back then. Physically I'm much more prepared, and a lot comes with that. And there's the experience that comes with driving these last four years, I think I can race harder.
Q: Do you know more about things like set-up now? I'm more open-minded than at Williams. But you still have to relate to your feel, so it's not a question of knowing more or less.
Q: Are you driving as hard as when you were battling for poles?
JV: Yes, it's my personality. Once I go out there, I always give it everything I have. I don't do it for people to notice. It's just my internal personal drive. That's the way I am with anything I do. It doesn't matter how close to the best it is or not, I'll always give everything I have. I always want to go back at night thinking I really gave myself fully. That's all.
Q: But is it important to remind people of your ability?
JV: You need to remind people every race, race after race. It doesn't matter how many races you win, the one bad race you do, you'll be laughed at. It's funny because you see some drivers who never achieve anything, but they get into F1 because people said they were so good in karts, or they're the new Senna. And five years later they still get good contracts and people still believe that they're amazing. I've always been in a situation where people were always comparing me with my dad. So race after race it's a question of proving you can do something.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about F1 costs, and a one engine per weekend rule is coming in the future. What do you think of that?
JV: I think an F1 team will spend as much as it earns. It doesn't matter how many engines you use in a race weekend. Even if it's an engine that has to last a whole weekend, you'll still pour millions into it because you want to get the extra 5bhp that can still do 600kms. So it doesn't matter. It will still be an amazing, technologically advanced engine. It doesn't make any difference on that side. If you want to cut costs, cut testing. No more testing, no more test teams.
Q: How would that help?
JV: The difference is that if one of the top teams earned more money, it probably wouldn't make them go quicker. But if a team like Minardi made more money, or could spend all their money on the racing and not split it between racing and testing, then they would go quicker. That what sucks a small team dry, all the testing. They also say if you don't test, there will be more spent on electronics and all that. But it's already done. There's a lot of money going into simulations anyway, so it wouldn't make a difference.
Q: Another major talking point is driving standards. How can things be improved?
JV: It can be policed by starting to control driving standards in F3 and F3000. If you watch an F3000 race, you go crazy. Crazy about how many black flags should have been shown or not. They don't really seem to care. And if someone does something dirty to you, you're not allowed to do it back to him, so that's bad. It's like when you watch football with all the fouls, or any contact sport. That's what's happened with ice hockey, for example. Before you didn't hit someone if you didn't want to get hit back, whereas now you just do something nobody sees, and the guy can't hit you back. Same in F1. If someone does something to you, and it's obvious you're doing something back, it's you who will who get punished.