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Monday, November 08, 2004

Villeneuve: Rookie with big dreams?

I just read this amusing story on PlanetF1. The headline is particularly funny - JV: 'I feel like a rookie with big dreams.' A rookie Monsieur Jacques? Pardonne moi but I don't bloody well think so. Jacques asserts that given that he has won the world title before, he feels he can do it again naturally. Yeah, you and in which car mate?

Jacques is now stuck at Sauber. With the exception of one Kimi Raikkonen, people in Saubers do really go on to much bigger and better things. Oh yeah, sure Fisichella is off to Renault now but quite frankly, the odds of Renault producing a world championship challenger is always on the slim side relative to McLaren, Ferrari and Williams. This despite the big dip in form by McLaren and Williams this year. Still in the long term, you want to be with one of these teams. Jacques Villeneuve will only get into these teams over a large pile of dead bodies.

Does he perhaps think that he can get a Ferrari drive once big Schuey quits? Errrmmm.... not if Raikkonen has anything to say about that. He's being seriously considered by the Ferrari management. I'd say there's a better than even chance that he will end up there. But what about the second seat at Ferrari currently being kept warm by Barrichello. Well, with the stories of Liuzzi and Rossi being floated about these days, I'd say there's a good chance they're scarlet race seat bound as well. Ferrari I believe would definitely want an Italian behind the wheel of at least one of their cars.

Ron Dennis has had consultations with Villeneuve in the past but Ron passed him up for Raikkonen instead. I think Ron would want to consider other people rather than an old champion. So let's look at the Frank and Patrick show. Well, it's no secret that Patrick believes that Villeneuve is a difficult sort of fellow to work with. Furthermore, it is Patricks view that Villeneuve was making such hard work in 1997 when they won the championship together. Plus, seven years is a bloody long time ago and one gets the feeling that Villeneuve may have wasted one too many years at BAR under dog management of Craig Pollock.

So where does Villeneuve thinks he can go? At 33, he's getting on now and is a senior citizen. Whether or not you believe that Button blew his pants off in 2003, the perception of the press and public at large is that the Englishmen bested him during their time together. As for his former team BAR, David Richards has been heard to say that he prefers investing in youth than old timers. And why not? So long as there are talented youths out there, he may as well spend on them instead. They cost less and are more appreciative of what they get. Money saved can be spent developing the car instead of paying for superstar lifestyles.

Villeneuve may have at best three more years in Formula 1. After which, I doubt if any team would want their hands on him. Look at poor David Coulthard. Getting old with no where to go. Out of the three years left, Villeneuve will spend two at Sauber. Of course, he will just be making up the numbers. After all, there is no way Sauber will win a race let alone a championship, not with Ferrari supplying their engines. After these two years at Sauber, a permanent exit from Formula 1 I would say is definitely on the cards. No one is going to take him when he's 35.

So, forget your dreams dear Jacques. It is all over. Your loyalty to your friend Craig Pollock has been to your utter detriment, unfortunately. One that is not possible for you to recover from. Just enjoy your final two years at Sauber and watch while your once arch enemy, Michael Schumacher and his Ferrari team grind you to the dust for the next two seasons and thirty odd races. Observe how Ferrari will use their power and influence to extract every ounce from Sauber and watch while Michael just sucks away at your dignity. Your once feisty character will shrivel away until 1997 just becomes a faint and distant memory.

Now before anyone accuses me of having something against Villeneuve, I admire him. Or did once. He and Eddie Irvine were once the last two characters of Formula 1. Unafraid to speak their minds as compared to the corporate drones these days, both of them provided a refreshing relief to PR boredom. Plus, I rate Villeneuve as a good driver. After all, he did beat Michael Schumacher a long time ago. I remember in the 1996 Portugese Grand Prix, he managed to pass Michael on the outside on the final corner at Estoril. I had also watched how from being two laps down, he came back to win the Indianapolis 500 race back in the day when it was still raced on by Indycars.

Villeneuve is a real racer. In dreams, real racers like him would be in a McLaren battling with Schumacher still, and winning championships along the way. The reality is unfortunately vastly different. As an employee of Sauber, he will now have to defer as does the Sauber team, to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. The ultimate humuiliation is at hand before finally he ends up a commodity nobody wants. Ugh. I can't bear to watch actually.

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