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Final Point Standings
Driver Championship
1 Sebastien Bourdais 364
2 Justin Wilson 281
3 Rob Doornbos (R) 268
4 Will Power 262
5 Graham Rahal (R) 243
6 Oriol Servia 237
7 Bruno Junqueira 233
8 S. Pagenaud (R) 232
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13 Dan Clarke 129
14 Ryan Dalziel (R) 116
15 Katherine Legge 108
16 Jan Heylen 104
17 Alex Figge (R) 95
18 Mario Dominguez 78
19 Nelson Philippe 28
20 David Martinez (R) 18
21 Matt Halliday (R) 18
22 Roberto Moreno 9

Rookie of the Year
1 Robert Doornbos (R) 268
2 Graham Rahal (R) 243
3 Simon Pagenaud (R) 232
4 Neel Jani (R) 231
5 Tristan Gommendy (R) 140
6 Ryan Dalziel (R) 116
7 Alex Figge (R) 95
8 David Martinez (R) 18
9 Matt Halliday (R) 18

Give it up already Jacques Villeneuve

by Brian Carroccio
Sunday, October 17, 2010


Jacques Villeneuve in 1995 when he won the Indy 500 and CART title, a time when winning an IndyCar title meant you beat the best drivers in the world
Today I am writing about a developing story, I was in fact, ahead of months ago. For those who read regularly, you might recall I wrote an article about Jacques Villeneuve, the 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion and 1997 Formula One (F1) World Champion. Villeneuve, has had something of a star crossed career, as he became world champion at the age of 26 and joined an illustrious pantheon in racing history, having won the IndyCar Championship, Indy 500 and F1 titles. For perspective that list contains three names: Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Villeneuve.

However, the talented Villeneuve quickly fell from grace after that 1997 title campaign. From bad cars to bad decisions and plain bad luck, the prideful Villeneuve found himself relegated to a mid-pack F1 driver. His star would ultimately wane and Villeneuve spent much of 2004 sitting on the sidelines before being out of F1 permanently in 2006. For years, Villeneuve has insisted that given the right situation, he could still compete for wins in the cutthroat, bottom line world of F1. Since losing his ride with Sauber in mid-2006, the precocious French Canadian has been relegated to the sidelines. Villeneuve has raced other formula such as sports cars and stock cars, but has not found a consistent niche. Thus, for over a decade now, the man who once dominated racing's top formula with ease has been searching, in vain, to regain his former glory.

Over the summer, reports surfaced that Villeneuve, once again without any offers in F1, would attempt to purchase his own team, then put himself in the car. The idea being, that since no one would hire him, Villeneuve could simply hire himself. Currently, Villeneuve appears close to finalizing a deal that would see him be part of a group to purchase an existing F1 team. Backmarker outfits HRT or Virgin appear to be the targets. Villeneuve, of course, would hire himself as one of the team's two drivers.

Jacques Villeneuve at Long Beach in 1995
I stated back in August that I believed Villeneuve purchasing his own F1 team and hiring himself to drive was a terrible idea, particularly when he stood little chance of succeeding, and potentially could spend a fortune in said failure. Nothing has changed to alter that opinion. Simply put, this is an indication of a former champion failing to rationally evaluate a situation. Rather Villeneuve, as he has so many times, is continuing to chase the elusive dream of once again climbing the sport's pinnacle. Sadly, this is a futile effort that will almost certainly end in failure.

For starters, F1 is a young man's game. Even Drivers their early to mid 30s are often considered to be over the hill, lacking the lack the stamina and reflexes needed to compete at the pinnacle of motor sport. This does not bode well for someone who will be 40 next April and was considered washed up 5 years ago. Villeneuve need only look at his former rival Michael Schumacher. The 40 year old seven time world champion returned to the grid this season after a three year layoff, and has been thoroughly beaten by his younger, less heralded teammate Nico Rosberg.

Also, and I say this knowing little about Villeneuve's financial situation, F1 is an endless money pit. For example, the Virgin team Villeneuve may be purchasing is owned by billionaire Richard Branson. Branson's team has been mired at the rear of the field all season, and the entertainment/airline magnate seemingly wants out. Sure there are highly profitable teams but they all enjoy either major factory or corporate support. Villeneuve would likely enter without the support of a major car company and there is nothing to suggest he has a sponsor lined up with the cash of Red Bull or Vodafone.

In my opinion, Villeneuve would be better served entering sports car or stock car racing. Both formula offer the ability to enter with comparatively low start up costs. In sports cars, the marketable Villeneuve could secure factory engine support, and enjoy a few years driving with the potential of competing for race wins and championships. In stock cars, Villeneuve could run selected races in multiple divisions and benefit from NASCAR's designs on expanding in his native Canada.

In F1 he's another has been. Sadly, Villeneuve lost many good years in lousy cars, but the window to recapture past glory has closed. Further, the financial commitment needed to run at the front end of the grid is monumental (a half billon for some teams), and has swallowed the fortunes of men with larger bank accounts than I imagine Villeneuve has.

Overall, if Villeneuve gets into F1 as either an owner or driver there is no evidence to suggest he will succeed, and overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He is way past the traditional prime for F1 drivers, and without the support of a major car manufacturer or corporation, he is fighting a losing battle. I do believe there are better options but the stubborn Villeneuve has long had his sights set on reclaiming the pinnacle of a sport he once dominated with ease.

Sadly, I don't see that ever happening.

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