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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

Villeneuve visits Sauber for talks

August 19, 2004 21:53 IST

Former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve visited the Sauber team headquarters in Switzerland earlier this week, a team spokesman confirmed on Thursday.

Canadian Villeneuve wants to return to the sport after quitting BAR just before the Japan Grand Prix in 2003.

Sauber lose Italian Giancarlo Fisichella to Renault next year and Villeneuve's manager Craig Pollock set up the visit to assess the team's facilities.

A Sauber spokesman said that during his three-hour visit, Villeneuve looked around the factory, inspected their new wind tunnel and had informal talks with team principal Peter Sauber.

Villeneuve had discussions with Williams, the team he won the 1997 world championship with, before they signed BAR driver Jenson Button for next year -- a move that is being contested.

The 33-year-old has since turned his attentions to BAR over a possible return. But a sticking point is likely to be the relationship between Pollock and Richards, which grew strained during Villeneuve's final season with the team.

"If Craig is an issue then he doesn't have to be involved. He can work from the office and I can easily be a front man," Villeneuve told British magazine Autosport.

"Anything personal is difficult to clear but the past is there for you to learn from.

"I am the guy for BAR because they need someone who can adapt to the team very quickly. I was with the team through the hardest time and we survived it together. It is unfinished business and I am hungry.

"I would be quite happy to work for bonuses. I haven't even thought about the money, it's not the important thing right now."

BAR team principal David Richards confirmed last weekend he had been contacted by Villeneuve but said he will not look for a driver until the dispute over Button's move to Williams is concluded. A decision is expected before September's Italian Grand Prix.

Villeneuve joined BAR in their first season in Formula One in 1999 and was one of the highest paid drivers in the sport. He quit BAR after Japan's Takuma Sato was named as his replacement for the 2004 season.

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