Did Jacques do it on purpose?

Jacques Villeneuve, Australian GP 2003

Jacques Villeneuve, Australian GP 2003 

 © The Cahier Archive

Jenson Button was massively upset after the Australian Grand Prix having had his race ruined by his team-mate Jacques Villeneuve having come into the pits in front of Button. Jacques had been due to pit on the previous lap but failed to appear. The team then followed the plan which called for Jenson to pit but were surprised when Jacques appeared in his place. Worse still Jenson was right behind the Canadian. According to our sources Jacques was told to go out and do another lap but "seemed not to hear the radio". This meant that the mechanics had to find Jacques tyres and fit them on the car. While this was happening Button just had to sit there and wait.

"I couldn't drive for another lap." he told THE SUN newspaper. "I would have run out of fuel."

Villeneuve may have had the same problem but by doing what he did he ruined any chance that the team might have had of scoring a point and as the two men were running fourth and fifth at the time of the pit stop this was a major disaster.

"Jacques came in on my lap and completely ruined my race," Button said. "He said he was sorry but I'm not impressed."

According to The Sun it is not the first time that Villeneuve has done this. Quoting an unnamed BMW Williams insider, the paper said that when Villeneuve raced for Williams "he did exactly the same thing to Heinz Harald-Frentzen a couple of times. It seems to be his way of trying to out-psych a team-mate."

Such activities are not going to go down well with the BAR team which is already at odds with Villeneuve over his salary for this season. Team boss David Richards wanted Villeneuve to take a pay cut to help the team make progress but the Canadian refused to budge on the money. Richards however was unable to find a deal to move Villeneuve out of the team but has made it clear that Jacques will probably not be with BAR in 2004.

In an interview in the Australian GP programme, Villeneuve said: "I don't set out to out psyche my team mates. The key for any driver is the question of respect for the team mate. Do you respect him or not? If you do, as I did with Olivier Panis then everything works fine and no-one gets destroyed in the process. But if you don't then it will just happen on its own. You cannot control it or yourself. I will respect Jenson once he goes quickly enough on the race track to earn it."

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Stories:: MARCH 10, 2003