Jacques Villeneuve was rumoured to be making a major announcement in Switzerland yesterday, but used a press call as much to explain why he had not raced in the Japanese Grand Prix as to outline his plans for the future.

Whilst confirming that he would not be in Formula One in 2004, the Canadian also admitted that he was not actively looking for a single-seater ride in either F1 or the USA for the year after that either.

"Unless I can drive a top car, I am not sure I would consider it," he revealed, "And, if there are no opportunities for 2004, why should there be any in 2005? I would not rule it out, but I am not working towards it."

Villeneuve's F1 career came to an abrupt halt following a telephone call from manager Craig Pollock to BAR team boss David Richards - a man JV admits to having little respect for - confirming that he would not be taking up his place alongside Jenson Button at the Japanese Grand Prix.

"There was no way I was going to risk my life for him," he said of the rift with Richards, "It had nothing to do with the team - it was all to do with David."

Villeneuve said that the timing of the decision to announce Takuma Sato as his replacement for 2004 had taken him by surprise, and had led to his falling out with the man now running a team he had been instrumental in bringing to Formula One.

"I got a crap offer from BAR - it was insulting because there was no money involved," he explained, "We went back with a counter offer but heard nothing. I put more than five years into the team, I put my career into them, and it will be hard to see someone else reap the benefits next year.

"Someone in the paddock was trying to destroy everything I achieved, putting about that I was a pain to work with. Everyone believed it. Even Bernie [Ecclestone] believed it - because he was telling me I had to change.

"If David had told me last May that I would not be racing for the team, then there would have been no problem. But he told me I could trust him and that we could do something special together. I just could not listen to that and respect him in the end."

 

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