AUGUST 27, 2002
Villeneuve turns down $50m deal!
Jacques Villeneuve has turned down a three-year $50m deal to race in CART in 2003 and then return to F1 in 2004 and 2005. According to the Journal de Montreal, the offer came from CART team owner Gerald Forsythe who, as a BAR shareholder, was working in league with David Richards of BAR.
Forsythe said that the deal failed because Villeneuve wanted too much money. The newspaper reported that Villeneuve was asking for a deal worth $57m.
The revelations from Forsythe suggest that Villeneuve will now stay at BAR for one more season (during which he will be paid $20m) but he will then be out of a job as the team made it quite clear to him that it was not interested in a short-term arrangement. This will mean a very stressful season for all involved as Richards and BAR had wanted to save money on driver salaries and invest that in developing the team.
This means that Olivier Panis is probably out of work next year as BAR already has Jenson Button under contract. Panis is talking to other teams but the number of drives available is now very limited. If that happens there will be no Frenchman racing in F1 in 2003.
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