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  Friday, 26 July, 2002, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Villeneuve backs Button
Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has criticised Renault for their decision to ditch driver Jenson Button.

The French team have decided to replace the Englishman, who has enjoyed so far a promising season, with Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

And Villeneuve, who will be joined by Button at BAR next season, says he cannot understand the decision.

"I've been pulling my hair out a few times when I've seen what's happened at the Renault team for the last two years," the Canadian told BBC Five Live.

"The better driver of the season always gets the sack. I find that very impressive.

"I really don't understand why or how you can come to a decision like that."

Last year, Renault let go Giancarlo Fisichella, who had comprehensively outpaced Button throughout the season.

"I've never really taken much time to consider what is important (in Formula One), apart from being fast for a team," said Villeneuve, on BBC Radio Five Live.


My wish is to still be racing in five years at the front, so I need to start winning very soon
Jacques Villeneuve

"If you just look at Formula One and a lot of the signings that have been going on for different teams, it is obvious that being fast is very secondary.

"I'm not saying Jenson is not fast because this year he is a lot more competitive than Trulli.

"All I am saying is it's very difficult to understand, or to know why, decisions are made."

Villeneuve also played down hints from team boss David Richards that it might be him rather than team-mate Olivier Panis who makes way for Button.

Richards had said that Villeneuve was part of the long-term future of the team with Button, but added: "In the short term, however, that might not be the only solution."

Richards has made no secret of the fact that he would like Villeneuve to take a pay cut from his reputed $20m salary next season.

Contract refusal

But Villeneueve said: "I've got a contract for next year and the only reason that won't be a contract for next year is if we discuss it, and the only reason you discuss something is because you gain something else out of it.

"Unless someone arrives with a platter of gold with something beautiful written on it then I don't see why I should really discuss it."

Asked whether he would still be racing in five years' time, he said: " If I spend the next two or three years at the back of the grid then I will probably be burnt out by then, so it depends a lot on that.

"My wish is to still be racing in five years at the front, so I need to start winning very soon."

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Formula One
22 Jul 02 | Formula One
22 Jul 02 | Formula One
22 Jul 02 | Photo Galleries
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