Some teams might give a promising young driver a second chance, but not Ferrari. You only get one offer to drive for the Scuderia, and if you turn it down, that's your last chance.
History has a way of aggrandizing the fallen, but few drivers have been as dearly missed as Gilles Villeneuve. Renowned for his ability to wrestle blistering lap times – often sideways – out of some of the most difficult cars to handle, the French Canadian driver remains a fan favorite to legions of Formula 1 fans and tifosi the world over.
Say what you will about what he's done since, but nobody was as hot a talent as Jacques Villeneuve in the mid '90s. The French Canadian driver – and son of Gilles Villeneuve, who died while racing for Scuderia Ferrari – won both the Indy 500 and the IndyCar title in only his second season in the series. Then he moved up to Formula One and repeated the feat by taking the championship in only his second season, having only lost out to his Williams teammate Damon Hill the season before.
Former F1 and Indy champion Jacques Villeneuve is playing down reports that he was offered a ride with the new Lotus Renault GP team for next season. The French Canadian driver recently threw in the towel on any potential return to grand prix racing after repeated attempts to get back on the grid, determined to break into NASCAR instead and getting his fix racing Skodas on ice in the interim.
There are any number of racing series around the world that are eager to welcome former F1 drivers onto their grids – and Jacques Villeneuve has tried nearly all of them. Traditional outlets have included DTM and Le Mans, to name just two, but lately retired grand prix drivers have found their groove again in such varied series as NASCAR and the World Rally Championship.
Jacques Villeneuve was a super-star back in the '90s. The son of the dearly missed Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques won the Indy 500 and the IndyCar title in 1995. One of the first in a wave of drivers following in their fathers' footsteps, JV rode the wave of his own success straight into an F1 race seat with Williams (back when the team was still in their prime), coming second in his first year and winning the title the following year. Unfortunately, it all went downhill from there.
The FIA may have rejected their bid to field a new team, but don't count Jacques Villeneuve and Durango out for the count just yet. According to reports from the paddock, the joint venture composed of a former world champion and an Italian racing team is going old-school in its campaign to own and operate its own F1 team.
Jacques Villeneuve (left) is rumored to be supported in his F1 bid by Flavio Briatore (right)
They say it's best to quit while you're ahead. But then, Jacques Villeneuve hasn't been ahead in quite some time. The former World Champion hasn't been on the grid – at least, not the Formula One grid – in four years. But even when he was, his performance had slipped drastically since winning it all in 1997 and the Indy title in '95. Still, he's the most successful North American driver on the world stage, and he's prepared to give it one more shot.
Preparations are well underway for the debut of the new USF1 team, which is set to join the Formula One grid next season. The car's been designed, the manufacturing facility is in the process of ramping up for production, and the team has staffed up. But while the nascent squad focuses on building the chassis and infrastructure, speculation has been running rampant over who will sponsor the team and who will be driving its two cars.
Now that the USF1 team has received the go-ahead from the FIA as one of the three new teams to join the grid next year, the boys in Charlotte are working away in preparation of an anticipated launch of their first chassis before the end of October. According to team principal Ken Anderson, the design is almost finalized, and they're just waiting for $5 million in machinery and the specs on the new Cosworth engine they'll be running to arrive before they can begin manufacturing. Currently the tea
Jacques Villeneuve may have his eyes set on a return to Formula One, but he isn't about to sit around waiting for it. The former world champion has announced plans to contest the upcoming Spa 24 Hours in Belgium later this month.
Jacques Villeneuve knows what it's like to win. After emerging victorious in the Indianapolis 500, the CART title, the Formula One World Championship and narrowly missing the chance to score the triple crown with Peugeot at Le Mans this year, the son of legendary racer Gilles Villeneuve finds himself without a ride for next year as the Speedcar Series in which he'd been competing teeters on the verge of bankruptcy. But JV's got a plan. He wants back into Formula One. And he reckons next season w
What do you do when your racing career is reaching its end? Well, if you were high-profile enough at the height of your career, you open a racing school. That's what former Indy and Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve has done, following various attempts to remain in F1, switch to NASCAR, starting a music career, and opening his own club/restaurant in downtown Montreal.
Poor Jacques is all washed up. Where this writer was born and raised, JV was a homegrown hero who lived up to his family name by taking the checkered flag at the Indy 500 (and the CART championship) and going on to win the Formula One title only two years later. But when you've reached the top, there's only one way to go. Unfortunately for Canadian race fans, that's the direction Jacques has been going for the last ten years.