Villeneuve uncovers the dark side of Audi’s F1 venture

Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 World Champion, expresses significant doubts regarding Audi’s impending collaboration with Sauber in Formula 1. Despite being an admirer of the German automaker—Volkswagen’s luxury brand, for which he custom-designed his own bright pink RS6—Villeneuve is not convinced that Sauber is the right partner for Audi in this venture.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Villeneuve pointed out the challenges of building competitive expertise within a team. “Well, they’re joining a team that hasn’t been any good for so many years,” he explained. “And you just can’t invent know-how. It’s something that you build over time.”

Having driven for Sauber at the latter stages of his career during both their privateer phase in 2005 and their works-backed BMW phase in 2006, Villeneuve is uniquely positioned to comment on the team’s potential. He questioned the likelihood of success under Audi’s flag, drawing parallels to Williams’ recent struggles. “You can see it with Williams,” he noted. “You know, they stay kind of good for a while, but you pay the price of pay drivers, of all that, and you pay it late.”

Villeneuve further questioned Audi’s long-term commitment to F1. “And then how are they (Audi) joining?” he asked. “Are they joining the same way Renault-Alpine joined just to be part of F1 and make some image or to actually be racers and try and go out and win. That, we don’t know.”

Recalling Sauber’s tumultuous history with BMW, which abruptly exited F1 after the 2009 season, Villeneuve warned of the risks involved with constructor-led teams. “What’s dangerous with constructors when they come in is they can easily in five minutes decide ‘ok, we’re gone, bye’—they leave and they don’t care,” he stated. “They’re great for the sport, but they’re also very dangerous in that respect.”


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