Villeneuve prepares for first Le Mans

Villeneuve prepares for first Le Mans

Jacques Villeneuve makes his first appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a break from racing since his departure from Formula One in the middle of last year. He talked about how the various parts of the Le Mans experience compare with...

Jacques Villeneuve makes his first appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a break from racing since his departure from Formula One in the middle of last year. He talked about how the various parts of the Le Mans experience compare with other forms of racing.

Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Villeneuve won the Indianapolis 500 in 1995 and the F1 World Championship in 1997, and was asked how Indy, F1 and Le Mans compare. "The Indy 500 lasts for ever, for two weeks before, and Le Mans is one week with all the past and the history and this and that, so it is more similar to the Indy 500.

"It's becoming long now. I just want to get the race underway. We are racers and we just want to be in the racecars. Spending days walking around is not what we are here for. It's fun, we do it, but ultimately what we want to do is get in the car."

He then went on to talk about the differences that he is finding at Le Mans compared to what he is used to, particularly with regards to features of the circuit and the approach to driving around it.

"It's definitely different but at the same time but there are many places without brake markers, or the yellow flags are often shown at the exit and completely too late, and so there are a few things like that that could possibly be changed.

"I didn't push this car to the limit like I would in Formula One because there is no point, and because you don't have a million pieces ready to repair the car. There are a few things that if we break we will be in trouble to repair them, so it's a little bit different. You are not after the last tenth of a second so it is a different approach."

The circuit is over 13km long and it is often difficult for new drivers to get up to speed if running is limited in the build up. Most of the sessions that Villeneuve has participated in have been wet which has affected the amount of running he could do.

"I don't have a favourite part of this circuit yet. We did a few laps last week just to learn the track and it was always wet. It's easy to learn as long as you are alone on the track, but when you come out of the pits and there are already cars that are going faster and you are looking more in your mirrors than where you are going that makes it a bit more difficult, but after five or six laps you know where you are going."

Villeneuve lines up in third place in the #8 Team Peugeot Total alongside Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin in tomorrow's Le Mans 24 Hours.

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