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Will Jacques stay or will he go?

THERE was considerable speculation at the Austrian Grand Prix which suggested that Jacques Villeneuve may decide to say at British American Racing next year rather than take up an offer to join Benetton in 2001 and then lead the new Renault Formula 1 team in 2002. There is no doubt that the Benetton offer is a lot more attractive financially to Villeneuve in the short term with the French company rumored to be offering $16m while BAR does not want to pay more than $8m. There is no doubt, however, that Villeneuve owns some of the shares in BAR and stands to gain more money if the team becomes successful and is then sold. The problem is that Honda has decided to supply its factory engines to Jordan in addition to BAR because of the team's poor performance to date and although things are improving there is still a long way to go. If Villeneuve leaves the team the value of the operation will plunge as there are no obvious top drivers available. Rumors in Austria suggested that Giancarlo Fisichella could join BAR if Villeneuve goes. Fisichella is also understood to have offers from Jaguar Racing.

Villeneuve is expected to make a decision within the next few days and once his future is known the market is expected to move very quickly.

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