Former GP2 Series contender Durango has confirmed speculation that its bid to enter F1 in 2011 is one in partnership with Villeneuve Racing – a project that has been launched by 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve.
Having withdrawn from the F1 feeder series last September due to financial difficulties and having not competed since, a considerable degree of incredulity was expressed when the Italian outfit announced its intention to apply for the vacant 13th spot on the grand prix grid next season.
However, when Villeneuve Racing first came to light late last week [see separate story – click here
], rumours began to circulate that the two initiatives might not be unrelated, and Durango team principal Ivone Pinton has now admitted that the Veneto-based operation has joined forces with the eleven-time grand prix-winner and his manager Rick Gorne, one of the founding members of British American Racing (BAR).
“Jacques is an energetic and willing guy,” Pinton told 422race.com
. “I really hope together we will find a place. For Durango, to work with him is an honour and a privilege – we are talking about the son of a myth and a former world champion. I have known him since he was 16 and I always said that, whenever he's okay, he's a great driver who [has] won in every series.”
Villeneuve would almost certainly drive one of the team's two cars himself – having made no secret of his desire to rejoin the F1 fray four years on from his last grand prix start with BMW-Sauber in Germany, and having been frustrated in his comeback efforts with Stefan GP this season – whilst there has also been talk of technical link-ups with either Dallara or Toyota on the chassis front, and a British-based factory.
“Together with being driver, I'm sure he will actively contribute to the company,” Pinton revealed of the 39-year-old French-Canadian. “I think he's preparing himself to do the job after he quits driving. We still don't know where the car would be built, but the home of the team will be ours, in Italy.”