Jacques Villeneuve Eager to Start Season With New Team

VILLENEUVE SETS HIGH GOALS IN FIRST SEASON WITH NEW TEAM INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 15, 1999 -- Jacques Villeneuve is aiming for a win in his first season with the new British American Racing Formula One team. "The goal is very high," Canada's...


INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 15, 1999 -- Jacques Villeneuve is aiming for a win in his first season with the new British American Racing Formula One team. "The goal is very high," Canada's Villeneuve said at the official launch of the British American Racing-Supertec on Jan. 6. "The only reason to go racing is to win and to try and better yourself."

"If you get into F1 with the right budget, the right technology and the right frame of mind that you want to win, then there's a good chance that you are going to win," he said. "But most teams got into F1 saying that they wanted to finish at least 10th, so they aren't going to do better than that."

1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Villenueve said he "definitely" feels that he can up at the front challenging for race wins.

"Last year (with Team Williams) was a difficult season, but it was good training and good mental training," Villeneuve said. "I'm positive that '99 with the new team will definitely be better than '98, so I'm really looking forward to it."

"We will try to do our best, but even if we don't win as long as we know we have done our best and that we can improve, then we will be happy," Villeneuve said.

After three years with Williams and winning the Formula One World Championship in 1997, Villeneuve signed for the new British American Racing (BAR) outfit created by his manager Craig Pollock and Adrian Reynard. The same combination won the 1995 Indy 500.

BAR bought the Tyrrell F1 team, hooked up with technical partner Reynard and recruited personnel from inside and outside of F1.

The launch of the new car took place at BAR's new headquarters located near the Silverstone circuit, home of the British Grand Prix. With six F1 teams and numerous racing support industries based in the area, it has become known as the Silicon Valley of F1.

BAR's new team will succeed, Villenueve believes, because it's a "breath of fresh air."

"The (F1) cars are looking more and more the same," Villeneuve said.

"Whenever F1 has a good idea it soon becomes copied. Once you are part of a team, the car is always an evolution and it becomes difficult to have new ideas. This team, starting from scratch and putting all these ideas together will make a difference."

The first runs in the car were impressive, and Villeneuve said he's now even more confident "because I've seen what the beast is capable of. She showed me her potential, and that was very impressive.

"You can always have surprises. You always shoot for the top ... but from what I've seen it's going to be good."

Reynard has an enviable record of winning the first race of every category it has ever entered. Will the streak continue when the first Reynard-designed F1 car races in the Grand Prix season opener in Melbourne, Australia, on March 7?

"How did I know that question was going to be asked?" Technical Director Reynard asked. "A lot of the people we have got in this company share the dream that the team is going to be very successful. It's all about going out and performing and winning races.

"We spent a lot of time recruiting people with the right attitudes, with a killer instinct. One of the qualities is that they are highly ambitious. Now there's no doubt that it's a highly ambitious game, but I've never known that setting one's targets too high in this business is a bad thing, so that's what we are going to try and do."

Pollock, managing director of BAR, also has his sights aimed at victory. "Jacques has already said that if we intended to go out to be 10th in the championship we probably shouldn't go out," Pollock said. "We believe that we have a very good car; we believe that the car can do very good things.

"If Jacques thinks he has a chance to win, we should go for it. We should go out and try to win races as soon as possible. The main goal is to try and keep the car competitive as we try to build up a new team." The new car has been designed by Australian Malcolm Oastler, who also conceived Villeneuve's Indy 500-winning Reynard. Power comes from a Supertec V10, which develops more than 750 horsepower.

"The objective was to build a simple, effective car," Oastler said. "We used the data from the Tyrrells and the Indy cars. But once you design a new monocoque with a different engine, it becomes 99 percent a new car. We started designing this car about a year ago. The most difficult task was the packaging -- getting everything to fit together and keeping it simple and lightweight."

Villeneuve's teammate this year is Brazil's Ricardo Zonta, who won the 1998 FIA GT Championship driving for Mercedes-Benz and also won the 1997 FIA Formula 3000 Championship.

"F1 is the most important championship in the world," Zonta said. "It's very important for me to be in F1 this year, and I can learn a lot from Jacques."

Pollock says he hopes his new team finishes in the top four in the final constructor standings of this year's Formula One World Championship. "The twinkle in Jacques' eye after that first test was unbelievable," Pollock said. "It's only something I have seen when he got out of the Williams for the first time. He knew when he sat in the Williams he had a chance to do something with that car. This time he potentially thinks he has the car to do something, and it's up to us to make sure we keep the car around him to do the job."

Source: IRL/IMS

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Ricardo Zonta
Teams Mercedes , Williams , British American Racing