SEPTEMBER 14, 2004
Villeneuve test confirmed
As we exclusively reported on Sunday, Renault F1 announced today - after denying yesterday - that French-Canadian Jacques Villeneuve will test for the team at Silverstone this week. Villeneuve flew to England on Tuesday and had a seat fitting at the Renault factory at Enstone and he will familiarise himself with the Renault R24 tomorrow.
"We have reached an agreement for Jacques to test for the team at Silverstone on Wednesday and Thursday," said Flavio Briatore. "This test might lead to Jacques joining the team for the final three races of the season beginning next week at the Chinese Grand Prix"
For Villeneuve this is the last chance as a failure to land the Renault drive would wipe out any real chance of a drive elsewhere in 2005. Villeneuve is still hoping for work at either Sauber or BAR.
The announcement is a kick in the teeth for Renault test driver Franck Montagny, who has been the Renault test driver this year and another blow for French motorsport as the signing of Villeneuve means that there is little chance for Montagny next year and with Olivier Panis retiring, France wll not have a Grand Prix racer next year, for the first time since 1966.
The only realistic hope for France is Sebastien Bourdais. He might come back from America and land a drive at Jaguar Racing (or whatever it is called next year). The irony is that France's racing heritage might end up being upheld by what is a quintessially British brand rather than by the team which is owned by the French national car company and is sponsored by Elf France's national oil company.
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