Jacques Villeneuve (left) is rumored to be supported in his F1 bid by Flavio Briatore (right)
There are two ways to land an F1 seat: pay or get paid. The latter is largely reserved for the top drivers in the sport. The former involves raising enough sponsorship dough to pay both your salary and a portion of the team's operating budget. As a former world champion long since fallen off his pedestal, Jacques Villeneuve has likely gone both routes. But in his last-gasp effort to get back into the pinnacle of motor racing, reports indicate that he's now taking a different approach.
According to reports from the motor racing paddock, Villeneuve has lodged a bid with the FIA to field his own team for next season. The slot on the grid opened up after the USF1 team failed to make it, and is now in hot contention. ART GP, headed by FIA president Jean Todt's son Nicholas (who also manages several top-tier drivers) was one team expected to make a bid, but has since withdrawn.
Having contested 165 grands prix and won both the F1 and Indy championships – to say nothing of his stock-car and Le Mans racing forays – JV certainly has a wealth of experience to draw from, but if you're thinking he's got no team-management experience, hold on because there's more. Reports also suggest that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds – the two former Renault team bosses disgraced in the wake of the Crashgate scandal – could be involved in the bid as well. Also linked to the entry is Durango Automotive, the former GP2 racing team that was also tipped to be bidding for a spot on the F1 grid next season.
Villeneuve in the meantime is preparing to qualify for the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis next weekend. If he succeeds, he'll join Juan Pablo Montoya as the only drivers to contest the speedway's three biggest events: the United States Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.