Jacques Villeneuve is dismissing current speculation indicating that the FIA is set to keep the thirteenth team spot vacant for the 2011 season.

The 1997 World Champion entered into a partnership with GP2 squad Durango to have a crack at getting onto the 2011 grid, and presented its bid for consideration alongside rival outfit, Le Mans constructor Epsilon Euskadi.

However, we reported earlier this week that the FIA was unlikely to proceed with either candidate, with the belief that neither had a strong enough engineering and financial platform to mount a serious effort.

Even though the decision has apparently been reached over a week ago, it was believed that the confirmation would only be made after the next ordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, which is set to occur in Italy on Friday.

However, Villeneuve told the French-language Canadian newspaper Rue Frontenac that he remains optimistic about his team’s chances.

Jacques Villeneuve remains optimistic that his collaboration with Durango will get the green light from the FIA “We have had no news – positive or negative – from the FIA,” he said. “All I know is that we are proud of our bid and we followed the process instituted by the FIA.

“We have a budget in place for the next three years, and the design of the car is going very well. Phase 1 is nearing completion. We have submitted our application and we only need the approval of the FIA for the next phase.”

The 39-year-old added that he understood that reaching any decision on appointing a thirteenth team would take time.

“The memory of the USF1 debacle is still fresh in [the FIA’s] minds,” he said. “They want to be really sure that the group with the 13th spot will be very solid, and that suits us because we are strong.

“After our meeting, they wanted to do due diligence and that’s probably why the announcement is a bit late,” he added. “We look forward to the news but we’re not panicking – far from it.”

The 11-time Grand Prix winner added that Durango boss Ivone Pinton was not panicking either, despite the latest rumours.

“We have barely discussed it, except to say the media is a bit fast on the trigger! It’s possible the FIA will say no but we have no indication to that effect,” he said.

[Original image via AUTOSPORT]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.