Villeneuve couldn't be talked round

Jacques Villenevue could not be talked out of his decision to withdraw from Suzuka, despite the efforts of his race engineer Jock Clear. Very disappointed to have been dropped by BAR in favour of Takuma Sato for 2004, Villeneuve decided he did not...

Jacques Villenevue could not be talked out of his decision to withdraw from Suzuka, despite the efforts of his race engineer Jock Clear. Very disappointed to have been dropped by BAR in favour of Takuma Sato for 2004, Villeneuve decided he did not want to race in the last Grand Prix of the season and asked to be released from his contract.

"I was travelling down here on the bullet train this morning and I received a call from Craig Pollock informing me that Jacques wanted to be released from his contractual obligations," BAR boss David Richards told reporters at Suzuka. "I've agreed to this. If somebody doesn't want to drive, they don't want to drive and so Takuma will be driving on Sunday."

"I got Jock (Clear) to speak to him but when a driver really doesn't want to race you can't ask someone to get into a car that is going to do 200mph around a race circuit if he is not heart and soul committed to it."

"Jock has worked very hard to try to persuade him to race this weekend and Jock is as close to him as anybody. It is very sad, very sad. I certainly was not expecting this. He has been over here for a couple of days but I have not spoken to him. But you have to respect a driver's decision."

The team announced on Tuesday that Sato would partner Jenson Button in 2004 and the Japanese will now replace Villeneuve at Suzuka this weekend.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Jock Clear , David Richards