Former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve is to return to the South American-based Top Race Series in which he appeared last year as he continues to keep himself in the spotlight for a potential return to the top flight in 2010.
The Canadian, who won the 1997 F1 title with Williams, will race in Sao Paulo on 19 July and Buenos Aires on 20 September, driving a Mercedes TRV6 against the likes of erstwhile F1 hopefuls Norberto Fontana and José María Lopez, who currently lie second and third in the standings after six rounds. Villeneuve's first outing in the series, at the 2008 'Race of the Year' in Buenos Aires, resulted in 26th place - from 13th on the grid - at the wheel of a Passat TRV6, and he is clearly aiming to improve on that.
"After last year's experience, it is a pleasure to drive again in the Top Race Series," JV commented, "It was a very fun experience and I had a great time both on and off the track. For this year's race, there are a couple of things I should be able to take advantage of, as I know the cars and the two racetracks in which we are going to race. I won at both venues - Interlagos and Buenos Aires - during my time in F1, but it is not going to be easy to get those results at the Top Race Series because the drivers I am racing against have many more miles on board those cars than I do but I will try.”
Villeneuve's desire to return to F1 - particularly in an era that he has described as 'human' and 'fun' - remains at the forefront of his ambition, but he insists that will not interfere with his commitment to appearing in South America. The 38-year-old also sought to underline that whilst his initial talks with teams at Silverstone three weeks ago were 'quite positive', they were nonetheless 'mostly exploratory' – and that his chances of a grand prix comeback in 2010 remain 'very slim'.
"I would return tomorrow if the opportunity was there – and there's not many years available to do it, so I guess it's now or never," he stressed. "I am excited about the possibility of getting back to F1 next year - and I estimate that, in the coming days, I will have a definition in this regard - but I have already made a commitment to the Top Race events and there is no chance that anything will interfere with my travel to Brazil and Argentina."
The eleven-time grand prix-winner is also clearly not yet done with NASCAR either, having announced on Thursday [9 July] that he is to team up with former Champ Car racer Andrew Ranger and Jonathan Bouvrette for this weekend's fourth round of the Canadian Tire Series, the Tide 250 in Saint-Eustache, Quebec.