Jacques Villeneuve has fuelled speculation that he might ink a deal with Lotus after spending a day this week at Group Lotus' UK headquarters.

The Canadian, who has missed the past three-and-a-half F1 seasons since being usurped by Robert Kubica in the BMW-Sauber line-up, has long maintained that he is targeting a return in 2010, and has been a frequent visitor to grand's prix throughout the year.

Indeed he recently underlined his desire to return to the top flight by rehiring personal trainer Erwin Gollner to oversee his winter preparation programme.

According to a statement put out by Lotus in the UK - which it should be noted is actually pretty much a separate entity to Tony Fernandes' new Malaysian 'Lotus F1 Racing' squad - the 1997 F1 World champion spent the day touring the facility. He also got the chance to drive the firm's latest offering, the award winning Evora.

"Jacques' visit is an honour for Lotus and Lotus is a team," said recently appointed CEO of Group Lotus, Dany Bahar. "Our people are a blend of talent and expertise combined with passion for our brand. Our highlights are theirs, so this is a special day for us all."

Villeneuve meanwhile was delighted to spend the day at the home of one of Britain's most famous marques and he also took the opportunity to catch up with Clive Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman.

"It has been a great day for me to catch-up with my friend Gino Rosato in his new role at Lotus and to see where the magic of Lotus comes from," Villeneuve added.

"My first toy car as a child was a replica model of Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus 72. I could say his name before I could say my dad's! I really enjoyed watching them racing when I was a boy.

"It has been a really fun trip for me. To see the people working to build the Evora was particularly nice. It's a really nice car and it is also fun and comfortable to drive."

Villeneuve has been linked to a number of teams in recent months, including not only Lotus, but also USF1.


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