Jacques Villeneuve made his long-awaited F1 return in China, but BAR boss David Richards believes the Canadian is too old to make a successful comeback and his recent race performance proved it.

Jacques Villeneuve made his long-awaited F1 return in China, but BAR boss David Richards believes the Canadian is too old to make a successful comeback and his recent race performance proved it.


Richards, the man who dropped Villeneuve from BAR at the end of last year, told that the Canadian's full-time return to F1 would ultimately prove a disappointment.


CARtoday.com reported recently that Villeneuve was signed by Renault for the rest of the season as the team tries to beat BAR in the fight for second place in the constructors' championship, and he also has agreed to a two-year contract with Sauber. However, Richards does not believe that the former world champion's return will deliver the kind of glory enjoyed by similar high profile comebacks in the past – including Niki Lauda (1984) and Alain Prost (1993), who both won titles after time out of the sport.


“When you have been a world champion, people expect you to come back at the same level but it is difficult to be competitive when you have had a year out of an F1 car. Jaguar is not the fastest car on the circuit, but (at Shanghai) Jacques could not pass (Mark) Webber to move up a place. Jacques has a hard job on his hands,” Richards said after seeing Villeneuve finish 11th in China. “I cannot see Jacques threatening anybody next season.


“I know racing drivers have successfully had comebacks in the past, but these days we need younger drivers. Youth is the great new thing in F1 and we plan to continue investing in young drivers.”


By contrast, Villeneuve said he was not too disappointed with how his Chinese Grand Prix weekend went – and believes he will be much better prepared for the next race in Japan: “I learned a lot during the race and got much more familiar with the car. The car got a lot better as the track rubbered in and I could attack more, plus I had the chance to work with the traction control and differential settings during the race to improve the handling, adjusting the car as the conditions changed.


“Looking ahead to Suzuka, I am feeling good - I know the circuit well, and I don't think we will have any problems with our pace in qualifying or the race,” the Canadian added.