Villeneuve: Bernie sticks the knife in

11/06/2005
NEWS STORY

In recent days a rather bitter war of words has broken out between Peter Sauber and his driver Jacques Villeneuve.

In truth, the issue has been bubbling away for some time, with Sauber fiercely critical of the Canadian following the incident at Monaco, which saw both drivers miss out on points.

Despite the sense of anticipation following the 1997 World Champion's signing to the Swiss team, the partnership has not been as magical as many had predicted, though it is totally unfair to lay the blame solely on the Canadian.

What is surprising is that Sauber, normally one of the quietest men in the paddock, a "peace at any price" kind of guy, who prefers not to 'make waves' is being so (publicly) critical of Villeneuve, claiming that the Canadian is "too slow".

For the most part, Villeneuve has maintained a dignified silence, however, ahead of his home race he took full advantage of a press conference to make his feelings known.

Either way you look at it, the relationship appears to have totally soured, and it remains to be seen how long it will continue before one party says "enough". That said, Villeneuve made it clear on Thursday that he has a two year deal with the Swiss team. He also accused the team of failing to make good use of his experience.

Sadly, as if the affair isn't bad enough, F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, has chosen to wade in with his size 15s, sticking the knife firmly between the Canadian's ribs.

According to the BBC, Ecclestone, who this time last year was calling on teams to bring Villeneuve back into F1, recognizing that Villeneuve not only has a huge fan base, but makes good 'copy' for the media, claims that the Canadian has lost his motivation.

"If he was quick he would be good for the sport but he's lost his motivation," says Ecclestone. "He is no good for himself or anybody else anymore."

Villeneuve's manager, and mentor, Craig Pollock, wasted no time in responding to Ecclestone's comments: "I am actually very surprised that Bernie would say that.

"Losing his motivation is definitely totally incorrect," added the Scot. "He has not lost his motivation."

All in all, a very sad situation, and one which - in our humble opinion - even pole, the win and fastest lap, here in Montreal, won't prevent ending in tears.

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Published: 11/06/2005
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