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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Villeneuve joins Sauber
Jacques Villeneuve
Villeneuve won his world title with Williams in 1997
Formula One team Sauber have signed Canada's former world champion Jacques Villeneuve on a two-year contract.

The 33-year-old, who will join Sauber on 1 November as team-mate to Brazilian Felipe Massa, will replace Renault-bound Giancarlo Fisichella.

However, Villeneuve could return to action for Renault in the final three races of this season following Italian Jarno Trulli's departure on Tuesday.

He is having tests with the team at Silverstone and a decison is due soon.

Villeneuve, son of the late Ferrari driver Gilles, won his world title with Williams in 1997 but was dropped by BAR at the end of the 2003 season in acrimonious circumstances.

"I am extremely excited to be back in Formula One with the Sauber team," said Villeneuve. "I appreciate the confidence everybody is showing in me.

"It is my goal to work with Peter Sauber and his team to bring them forward in the championship during the next two seasons."

Concerning the developments with Renault, Villeneuve said he would like to help the team pip BAR to second in the constructors' championship.

I have to admit that signing a former world champion is something truly special for me
Peter Sauber

Renault are three points behind second-placed BAR going into the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix next week.

The Canadian completed 70 laps at Silverstone on Wednesday and clocked a best time of one minute 18.776 seconds - just under a second off Renault's regular Spanish driver Fernando Alonso.

"We didn't work much on the car itself, just concentrated on the seat and stuff like that," said Villeneuve.

"It was enjoyable and the lap times are fast compared to when I was racing.

"They are about three seconds faster so it's a lot. Surprisingly, when you are driving it does not feel that much faster because the car is good. It's three seconds a lap more physical, more than anything else."

The decision on whether he races in China is likely to be taken on Thursday.

Sauber chief Peter Sauber said Villeneuve was totally committed to making a big impact next season.

"He was always a great fighter and I am convinced that together we can achieve a lot," he said after signing the star.

"I have to admit that signing a former world champion is something truly special for me."

Trulli was originally set to leave the French outfit at the end of the season but has now departed with three races remaining.

He revealed last week he had agreed a contract with an F1 team for next season but refused to say which one.

But it is a widely held view that this year's winner in Monaco is set to join forces with Ralf Schumacher at Toyota.




SEE ALSO
Trulli closes in on deal
09 Sep 04  |  Formula One
F1 boss wants veterans back
06 Sep 04  |  Formula One
Trulli to quit Renault
25 Jul 04  |  Formula One
Villeneuve 'wants comeback'
30 Apr 04  |  Formula One


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