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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Interview with Jacques Villeneuve

A decade in Formula One
Ten years ago Jacques Villeneuve raced a Formula One car in front of his home crowd for the first time. Now the 1997 Formula One World Champion goes back to Montréal as a newly married man. Here the BMW Sauber F1 Team driver reflects on his life and racing career.
It is ten years since your first Canadian Grand Prix. Have things change changed a lot for you both personally and in terms of motor racing?
"Personally it has changed a lot. Obviously because I am now married and expecting a kid, so that is a big difference. On the racing side the answer is also yes. Back then I was going to every race knowing we could fight for the win and now we go to the race thinking we can fight for the points. The really good thing is we are working in the right direction to get closer to the winning circle."

You still say racing is fun for you, which is not something you often hear from racing drivers driver’s. What is the fun aspect of your sport?
"I am in racing and Formula 1 purely because of the driving. This is why it is fun. If you are in it for a different reason then things may be different. Some people I know are in it for the glamour or for being a star and that is what Formula One represents. I think they probably have a lot less fun."

Montréal is where you come from but not now where you live.
What are your feelings for the City and Country?
"That is where my roots are so it always has a special importance."

This year you go there with your new wife. Has she been there before?
"No, Johanna has never been to Quebec or Canada, so this will be an interesting trip. We will have very little time to have a look around. During the racing season it is very hard to try and find the time to appreciate a place. I think we have one day off before the race weekend and that is it."

You are a racing driver, but probably you could easily have been a downhill skier?
"I knew since I was five years old I would race cars, so I never did anything else seriously enough to be able to bring it to a professional level."

You have expressed an interest in ice hockey, so is this another sport you could have done done?
"Yes it is a sport I love, but it is not something that I did as a youngster. I only started playing it lately."

You are a keen music fan and everyone is talking about your CD that is coming out soon. Tell us about it.
"It has a folk feel to it, folk rock. I don’t know how to describe it as it is really hard to give the direction it is, but it is not heavy metal and it is not R&B. A little bit more soft music with acoustic guitars. I wrote half of the songs and do some singing. I don’t play much because we have professionals who sounded a lot better than me. It was all done in France with French people. I don’t know anything about the music business so I am learning everything. I am definitely not wanting to have another career in music as my job and my career are racing. There is no time to do anything else. I have been away from home for 17 years now so I don’t want to add to that. I am going to build a family and all that so I want to be at home."

How do you feel currently with the BMW Sauber F1 Team?
"I love the team. We work well together and the team is going in the right direction as it is progressing well. It is not a dying team. It is the other way round as it is one on the way up."

Do you feel the way they are getting the two teams together is positive?
"It has worked very well. It does not feel like two teams despite part of the team being in Munich and part in Hinwil. It is great as it is just one team with everyone working well together."

Formula 1 is often critic criticised because the fans can’t get to the drivers driver’s. What is your opinion and do you think this is fair?
"In the old days there were less fans so there was time and room. These days we spend the whole day in meetings, etc. There is just no time. When you get to the track on Thursday and start working at mid-day and get home at eight at night you have not actually sat down and just drank coffee. It is not a question of not wanting to take care of the fans there is no time and that is just the way that is. Do football fans get more autographs? I think not. In fact every sport has evolved like that and it is not just F1."

What do you think about the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park in Montreal?
"I think that is great. It gives a little touch of racing to the fans. However, in Montréal it is always good for the fans as the spectator areas are not a long way from the track so they are able to be very close to the action."

The BMW Sauber F1.06 car suites your driving style. What do you put this down to?
"I quite like the V8 engines. I enjoy driving them. I can set the car up in a more natural way to drive. It is a much more precise car to drive than the one we had last year which is good."

If you had to send a message to your fans in Montreal what would it be be?
"I am still working hard and racing strong. Hopefully it will stay that way."


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