With Montoya’s departure for NASCAR, the spotlight shifts to Jacques Villeneuve as potentially the next to desert F1 for American tintops. Jacques’ options in F1 seem to be narrowing as the end of the season approaches and still BMW Sauber have not renewed his contract. His latest public pronouncement, suggesting that the teams are wrong to prefer new and unseasoned drivers over experience, shows that he knows Robert Kubica is the main threat to his continued presence within the team.
That’s one of the great things about Jacques – he has never been afraid to let his views be known. Have a read of yesterday’s press conference at Magny-Cours and see if anyone says something remotely unexpected. You won’t find anything – almost all the drivers these days stick rigidly to the script. But not Jacques.
It is easy to forget that the French Canadian was world champion in only his second year of F1. He spent too many years after that trying to make the BAR car competitive and his reputation suffered as a result. Now that he is in a team that is becoming increasingly competitive, we are beginning to see signs of a renewed energy and will to win. It would be a shame if he does not retain his seat for 2007 and so reap the rewards of his hard work so far.
You have to like Jacques. Not only is he a quick driver, he has a personality as well. And for years he has kept us entertained with various extra-curricular activities, the latest of which is the release of an album of his songs. You can hear one of them, Accepterais-tu?, on his myspace web page (myspace? Oh come on, Jacques, you can take this “I’m just a regular guy” thing too far, you know).
So it’s quite clear that Jacques has plenty of options for post-F1 life – if Nascar doesn’t want him (and it does), he can always become a pop star. The question is: does F1 want him?
My answer would have to be yes, if only because we would miss his outspoken comments (and irritation to Michael Schumacher) were he to go. Let’s face it, if you want to know what’s really happening behind the scenes, the person to ask is Jacques – he’ll happily stick his foot in his mouth for you!