x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Villeneuve reveals his backers for F1 return

Corporate backers are behind Jacques Villeneuve's plans for a Formula One comeback next season, the former world champion says.

LONDON // Corporate backers are behind Jacques Villeneuve's plans for a Formula One comeback next season, the former world champion said yesterday. In a statement on his website, the 39-year-old Canadian confirmed a link up with Italy-based Durango in bidding to become the 13th team on the starting grid. "There are a number of rumours circulating at the moment and I wanted to clarify a few things before this gets out of hand," Villeneuve said. "The team will be a joint venture with Durango, and based out of Italy. To be clear, right now all the money comes from corporate sponsorship and not from personal investors."

Ivone Pinton, the Durango owner, said last week that he had joined forces with Villeneuve, who would be a driver for the planned team, but was also looking for a role after he stops competing. Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion with Williams as well as a winner of the Indy 500 and CART series in the United States, last competed in F1 in 2006. The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) has invited applications for the 13th slot and is expected to decide in the coming weeks whether any have what it takes to participate at a time when some teams are struggling to raise sponsorship.

Durango ran a car for Villeneuve in the Dubai-based Speedcar series until that folded last year and they also dropped out of the GP2 support series in 2009 due to financial problems. * Reuters