Having endeavoured to revive his F1 career by rejoining the grand prix grid in 2010 and then again in 2011, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has now seemingly finally admitted defeat and drawn a line under his top flight ambitions – as he focusses instead upon a future in NASCAR.
Having proven unsuccessful in his attempt to return to the fray with the stillborn Stefan GP effort earlier this year, the French-Canadian subsequently went into partnership with financially-ailing ex-GP2 Series outfit Durango to create Villeneuve Racing, which went up against Stefan and Epsilon Euskadi in front of the FIA in a bid to gain the 13th available grid slot for 2011. All three were refused.
Durango team principal Ivone Pinton recently intimated at a more immediate move to NASCAR before trying to make the F1 leap again at a later date [see separate story – click here
] – but Villeneuve now concedes that the latter part of that plan has been scrapped.
“We worked hard on it this year, to come back and build a team,” the 39-year-old Québécois – who has not raced at the highest level since parting company with BMW-Sauber midway through a disappointing 2006 campaign – told BBC Radio Five Live
. “That was the easiest way, but then it didn't work out, so I think it's time to not bother looking at F1 anymore.
“We had the budget to build a team and you can only hang onto that for a certain time, and then people get bored and move onto something else. It was a lot of work and we concentrated only on that. All the other stuff we're doing took to the back-burner, like NASCAR. I think it's time to just focus on one thing.”
Villeneuve has some history in NASCAR, having competed on-and-off for Braun Racing in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series since 2007, with three top ten finishes in the latter championship and a podium near-miss in the Bucyrus 200 at Road America back in June, when the eleven-time grand prix-winner was running second with just two laps to go only to cruelly suffer a mechanical failure. He has, he makes it clear, unfinished business in North America's premier motor racing series.
“I've been working mainly on NASCAR, doing a few races, and it's been fun,” he confessed. “Mostly on the road courses – they're fun cars. Last week I was in Australia doing a V8 race and that was interesting, but right now my focus is on NASCAR.”