Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has admitted he will make one last-ditch crack at returning to the 2011 Formula 1 grid and give up trying if his bid is unsuccessful.
The winner of the 1997 title (pictured, with F1 supremo Bewrnie Ecclestone) was on top of the list of candidates for the prospective Stefan GP team, but the Serbian-based outfit’s last-ditch application to run with 2010-spec Toyota F1 chassis’ was kicked to the kerb by the FIA.
The French-Canadian winner of 11 Grands Prix (all with Williams between 1996-7) last competed in F1 with the BMW Sauber outfit in 2006 and recently turned 39.
In attendance at the Montreal paddock, he told reporters that he will make one final crack at returning to the F1 grid.
Speaking at an FIA-sanctioned ‘Make Roads Safer’ campaign event with his former arch-rival Michael Schumacher, Villeneuve told reporters: “I’m quite happy right now being busy raising kids,” referring to his two sons, Jules and Jonas, whom he had with his ex-wife Johanna Martinez.
“I would obviously be happier behind a wheel. Once you’ve been a racer, I think you’re a racer all your life,” he added.
“I worked hard on [trying to return to F1 for] 2010. I’m giving myself until 2011. There’s still a few months.
“The teams don’t want to take a risk. There comes a point where you’ve been out for too long and the teams just won’t give you a chance,” he concluded.
Perhaps a reflection of the low-esteem for which Villeneuve is held by local and international press – for which there seems little justification, in my opinion – the assembled journalists laughed when they asked Schumacher if Villeneuve’s comeback ambitions were a good idea.
Perhaps surprisingly, the German sprang to his fellow champion’s defence.
“I don’t know what is funny about that,” he responded. “The point is, as Jacques was saying, we are racers, and we have that in our blood. So, what you have there, you always keep.”
[Original image via GP Update]