Villeneuve knows he will fail miserably in IndyCar
Former F1 and Indy champion Jacques Villeneuve is playing down reports that he was offered a ride with the new Lotus Renault GP team for next season. The French Canadian driver recently threw in the towel on any potential return to grand prix racing after repeated attempts to get back on the grid, determined to break into NASCAR instead and getting his fix racing Skodas on ice in the interim.
According to reports, Lotus offered him a drive on its IndyCar team for this past season that would have led to an F1 seat with the automaker's newly acquired squad for 2011. The reports were spurred by Villeneuve's reported visit to Lotus to meet with Gino Rosato, one of the many former Ferrari employees who've since defected to Lotus – a visit which Villeneuve said was purely social and not professional. Rosato, like Villeneuve, hails from the Canadian province of Quebec.
Villeneuve also wanted to come back to F1 this year and he said he acknowledges the enormity of the challenge.
"It's difficult," he said. "I was away for six months [in 2004] and physically it was tough, and then you're getting your bearings. The last tenth is hard to get back."
In a separate interview, Villeneuve also denied that he had turned down an opportunity to race with Lotus Renault in 2011. A French Canadian radio commentator had implied he was offered the IndyCar drive in Lotus colors this year and would then have progressed to F1 when the sports car marque announced its 2011 tie-up with Renault.
"That was never discussed," Villeneuve insisted in an interview with Rue Frontenac.
Late last year, the 39-year-old visited Lotus' Norfolk headquarters for talks with his friend Gino Rosato.
"There was never any discussion of F1," Villeneuve said. "Everyone knows how hard I worked on my return to F1. If the only thing I needed to do was spend a year in IndyCar, I would have done it! The truth is that F1 only came into the plans of Lotus Cars in the last few months."
Rosato, who for a long time worked in F1 with Ferrari before moving to Lotus as vice-president of corporate affairs, backed Villeneuve's story.
"F1 was not in our plans when I spoke to Jacques about IndyCar," he said. "I would have loved for him to race with us. In my head, Villeneuve and Lotus was a natural fit but the planets were not aligned."
Villeneuve agreed: "It's true that we talked about IndyCar, but Takuma Sato had already been hired as their first driver and I was asked to bring some of the budget that my partners at the time wanted to invest for F1.
He added: "It was not an option. And IndyCar and the Indy 500 - I've already done that. And that was before the separation, when the series was more competitive. If I have to bring a budget, it will be for a new challenge like NASCAR, not to go back to something I have already ticked off and achieved."
Villeneuve says he had no interest in going back into IndyCar racing since he already mastered that series in his earlier days. Well, he already won the F1 championship too, but that didn't seem to stop him from taking another stab at it. And then another. And then a few more. failing each time he tried. We think he knows he cannot hack it in IndyCar. In part from ESPN