Rumours are swirling that 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has applied to the FIA for the one remaining team slot on the Formula 1 grid with the name 'Villeneuve Racing'. The Canadian has made no secret of his desire to get back into the sport. He left BMW-Sauber during the 2006 season and has not raced since. He agreed to drive for Stefan GP before the start of this team but the Serbian team were not able to get an entry though they are believed to be bidding to get on the grid for next season.
The decision on who will get the place on the 2011 grid is expected soon. I would think word will come in the next month as prospective teams need to get the green light as to whether they should progress with their respective projects. The Cypher group have been confirmed as a contender and have a driver as well in Jonathan Summerton (More to come on them soon) Epilson Eskadi were one of the favourites last year and should be a strong contender this time. Stefan GP are bullish about making it though another likely prospect ART GP have withdrawn their entry, citing unfavourable economic conditions. It is believed that the FIA are wanting the financial credentials of any new teams checked and proven before the final decision after the problems and struggles of HRT this season.
Of course they are probably the one team that could fall out of the sport and thta would leave more spaces but lets see how it unfolds. For Villeneuve, would he really be so keen for an F1 return that he would make his own team? Well, his Father Giles wanted to form a team at some stage before his tragic death at Zolder in 1982 so the desire may be born out of that. He is somebody who has spent time in other fields apart from motorsport so he could have the links and contacts to attract sponsorship and partners to bolster the effort. Hopefully news will come soon and it will be interesting to see. Kimi Raikkonen may be set to continue rallying but we could yet have 5 world champions on the F1 grid next season
UPDATE: More details have emerged through the day about what the plans are with this project. Here is what appears to be happening if 'Villeneuve Racing' enters F1 in 2011.
- Villeneuve would be 1 of the 2 race drivers
- There would be a link up with ex-GP2 team Durango, who have worked with the Canadian in the past
- The team will be based in Italy, i also heard talk of being UK based but Italy seeme to be overriding this. Giles Villeneuve remains a massive name in the country after his career at Ferrari.
So there is some more information on what remains a developing story but an interesting one and one which will either fade away within weeks or become a big story for next season.