Jacques Villeneuve has not officially been asked to stand in for Jarno Trulli at Renault for the rest of the F1 season, but given the chance, the Canadian would gladly help the French team beat his former employer, BAR Honda, in the constructor’s championship.

Jacques Villeneuve has not officially been asked to stand in for Jarno Trulli at Renault for the rest of the F1 season, but given the chance, the Canadian would gladly help the French team beat his former employer, BAR Honda, in the constructor’s championship.


CARtoday.com recently reported that Villeneuve had signed for the Ferrari-powered Sauber team for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The Canadian, who will be Felipe Massa’s team-mate, was widely expected to stand in for new Toyota recruit Trulli at next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.


For the past two days, Villeneuve has been familiarising himself with the R24 at Silverstone. On Wednesday, he conducted eight long runs, varying between four and nine laps each. The 1997 F1 world champion, who tried to find a comfortable driving position in the car, improved his times steadily as the day advanced and completed a total of 68 laps.


“I had expected things to be more difficult physically because the lap-times are a lot faster than when I last drove in F1, and Silverstone is possibly the most physically demanding circuit of all, but I feel fine,” Villeneuve said. “The R24 seems a nice car and handles well, but our aim today was to begin learning about the car – we did not work on set-ups at all. Overall, we made good progress.”


Villeneuve, no stranger to controversy, later admitted it would be “great” to see Renault pip BAR Honda to second in the Constructors’ Championship “because of the way it ended”. About a year ago, the Canadian stormed out of the Brackley-based team shortly before the Japanese Grand Prix.


He added that no decision regarding racing with Renault in the final three races of the season had been made. Villeneuve will not be able to race or test for Sauber until the end of the season and the purpose of the Silverstone tests were only to ensure he was ready to race should Renault ask him to take part in Shanghai.


(Renault test driver) Franck Montagny or Villeneuve will race for the team in the Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian Grands Prix. Should Villeneuve get the nod after the test session, he does not expect to be challenge for race wins, but "will try to learn from Fernando Alonso and help the team finish second in the championship".