Villeneuve withdraws from Japanese GP

Villeneuve withdraws from Japanese GP

Jacques Villeneuve has withdrawn from the Japanese Grand Prix and will be replaced by Takuma Sato for the final race of the season. Two days ago BAR announced Sato would replace Villeneuve in 2004 and in light of that decision, the Canadian former...

Jacques Villeneuve has withdrawn from the Japanese Grand Prix and will be replaced by Takuma Sato for the final race of the season. Two days ago BAR announced Sato would replace Villeneuve in 2004 and in light of that decision, the Canadian former champion decided he did not want to race at Suzuka.

Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"Jacques is extremely disappointed not to be staying with the team next year, and he simply felt that his heart would not be in it for the coming weekend," said Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock in statement. "As a result he asked that he be allowed to stand down. We are grateful to David Richards, and the team, for releasing him early from his contract."

It had been widely speculated that Sato would replace Villeneuve in Japan even before the news that the team test driver would be promoted to a race seat for 2004. Sato, however, said his race opportunity in his home country was a surprise -- although he is excited to be in competition again.

"This was not what I was expecting this weekend, and I cannot express how excited I am to be making my debut for BAR in front of my home crowd," Sato said. "It is going to be pretty crazy, but I am confident that I can do a good job."

BAR boss David Richards said the situation was an unexpected end to the 2003 racing season for the team: "Well the end of our season has been rather dramatic, and I certainly was not expecting this, but you have to respect a driver's decision if he feels he cannot give his best when facing these circumstances," he commented.

"Clearly, as we had already decided on Taku for 2004, we have faith that he will deliver for the team this weekend, and I am pleased that he should start racing with us on a track he knows so well. Now we have to focus all our resources on getting the result we need to secure fifth place in the championship."

Villeneuve couldn't be talked round

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jacques Villeneuve , David Richards