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Sidelined Villeneuve angry: 'I am deeply disheartened'

Sidelined Villeneuve angry: 'I am deeply disheartened'

31-05-2023 14:29 Last update: 15:18
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GPblog.com

Jacques Villeneuve was supposed to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans again, but it is not going to happen. The Canadian driver was sidelined last week and thus denied a comeback. The one-time F1 world champion is unhappy about the course of events and lashes out at his team Vanwall Racing Team ByKolles.

The team explained that they did not feel Villeneuve was "ready" to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The reason they gave was that his wife is pregnant and she is expecting the baby around the time the 24-hour race is also scheduled. Vanwall did not want to take that 'risk'. Another factor was that Villeneuve's mileage would be low.

Twice this year Villeneuve was behind the wheel of the Vanwall hypercar and both times he crashed; in Portimão he ended up in the tyre pile because his brakes suddenly failed. At Spa, the Canadian was the victim of a slide by a straggler, who took him into the gravel. Could that then have been the reason for replacing Villeneuve for Tristan Vautier.

Villeneuve very disappointed

"I am deeply disappointed to have learned of my replacement for the upcoming Le Mans 24hrs through a public announcement released by the Vanwall Racing Team ByKolles. To date, I have not received any official communication from the team, which is even more surprising given that I am still under contract to participate in the Le Mans 24hrs race," Villeneuve said.

The timing of the press release is very typical for the 52-year-old driver. "The timing of the release strangely coincided with my impending arrival at the hospital for the birth of our baby daughter, which had been planned for May 26th. ByKolles was well aware of this personal family event, rendering me unable to respond or address this sudden announcement."

Disillusionment

That the birth of his child is given as the reason, Villeneuve finds incomprehensible. "AAs a racing family, we have always successfully balanced our personal lives with our professional careers, with racing always holding a prominent place. In fact, my preparation for the Le Mans 24hrs event was meticulous and well-organized. Considerable time and effort were dedicated to achieving peak physical and mental readiness for this extraordinary challenge that I was really looking forward to [...] I am deeply disheartened that the opportunity to participate has been unjustly and arbitrarily denied," he said.

For Villeneuve, this brings his WEC season to an immediate end. He has decided to refrain from participating in the rest of the WEC season with Vanwall. Instead, the F1 analyst will focus on preparing for the 2024 season.