He might have made all the right noises about wanting to be a part of the Formula 1 furniture again in 2010 several weeks ago, but Jacques Villeneuve has admitted that he has taken his eye off the ball of late and needs to 'get back on it' if his ambitions are not to stall on the starting grid.
The 1997 F1 World Champion's appearances at grands prix have increased significantly this year, and after insisting at first that he was no more than an interested spectator, the French-Canadian subsequently confirmed that he is keen to make a comeback more than three years on from leaving the top flight with his tail between his legs to return across the Pond.
Since that ignominious departure from BMW-Sauber midway through the 2006 campaign – with the Bavarian manufacturer finally tiring enough of Villeneuve's lacklustre performances and off-track excursions to release him before his contract was up for renewal – the Québec native has competed mainly in NASCAR and sportscars, finishing second outright for Peugeot in the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours last year.
However, what he is really pining for is a return to the grand prix grid, and even though he is now close to 40, the recently-divorced father of two is adamant that he still has plenty to offer, particularly to new teams such as North Carolina-based USF1, for whom he has contended he would be a worthy candidate.
With talks not having progressed any further than the initial exploratory stages, however, it is now being largely surmised within the paddock that Alex Wurz is likely to join the nascent Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson-led operation in 2010, alongside an up-and-coming young American driver. Villeneuve fears he may have missed his chance.
“I haven't had the time lately to make the 'phone calls and get back on it,” the eleven-time grand prix-winner told the Montreal Gazette
. “It's not a daily thing. Every once in a while you go back at it to see where it's at. You have to show signs of being alive, that's the main thing.
“I don't really have a manager now. I kind of do everything on my own, the personal stuff and trying to keep my racing organised.”
Villeneuve resumed his NASCAR relationship in his home town last weekend, competing for Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series outing and qualifying sixth and finishing a competitive fourth in a wet race held around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, named after his late, legendary father.