BMW Sauber lukewarm on Villeneuve return

Formula One may have seen the last of former champion Jacques Villeneuve, judging from the reaction of his BMW Sauber team boss Mario Theissen.

Budapest, Aug 05: Formula One may have seen the last of former champion Jacques Villeneuve, judging from the reaction of his BMW Sauber team boss Mario Theissen.
Asked at the Hungarian Grand Prix about speculation that the Canadian would not be coming back after being replaced for Sunday's race by Polish test driver Robert Kubica, Theissen was non-committal.

"I don't know," he told reporters.

"We have a decision for this race and we will evaluate the situation after this weekend."

Theissen said Villeneuve, who had a big crash at the German Grand Prix last weekend, had not attended the post-race debrief at the track and informed the team on Tuesday that he had a headache and could not compete in Hungary.

The team boss said he had not spoken to the 35-year-old since Sunday but denied that their relationship had deteriorated.

Villeneuve's contract expires at the end of the season and Theissen refused to comment on his chances of continuing.

Asked whether it was intention to recall the 1997 champion once he was fully recovered, Theissen again did little to dispel the doubts.

"There are no guarantees in life," he said.

"The intention is to look at the situation after the race, as I said.

"We don't have a decision on the outstanding races of this season and not on next year either. We are just starting to think about next year and this is an opportunity for us to see how Robert copes with a race situation."

Theissen said he expected Kubica, who will become the first Pole to compete in Formula One, to do well and sang his praises in a way that suggested he was a man of the future.

"I think he is prepared, he has proved to be much more mature than you could expect from a 21-year-old guy," he said. "He has performed exceptionally at the tests... despite being very quick, he has almost never gone off.

"I am very confident he will be up to the game."

Theissen added that the team might have put Kubica, who has climbed to Formula One with little financial support and from a country with no motor racing pedigree, into a race seat later in the season anyway.

"It is certainly good to know as much as you can about a driver before taking a decision on taking him as a race driver or not," he said.

Bureau Report

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