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Has Jacques Villeneuve lost his edge ?  

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Jacques Villeneuve made his debut in Formula 1 with Williams in 1996 and in his first year he took the championship to the wire against Damon Hill. In '97 he won the World Title. The following year Williams weren't dominant any more as Adrian Newey left them and Renault pulled out. Villeneuve couldn't take it and after a year decided to join the newly created British American Racing team in 1999 in the hope that they will have a competitive car in 3 years. 
While no one expected miracles from the young team, failing to score a single point in their first season was certainly a major disappointment. The first race that Villeneuve actually managed to finish was the Belgian GP (the 12th race of the season) and he finished in 15th place. He only managed to finish two more races that season. Despite the poor reliability of the BAR, Villeneuve showed his brilliance while his car lasted.
In 2000 and with a 'works' Honda engine, BAR made progress and with Villeneuve they managed to finish 5th in the championship thanks to some outstanding performances from the French Canadian.

In his 3rd year at BAR, Villeneuve appears to have lost his edge, his team-mate Olivier Panis has managed to out-qualify him a number of times. (Head to head in qualifying Villeneuve leads 6 - 4 so far) yet Villeneuve is (was) known for his superb qualifying performance driving his car right on the edge. In '97 he was only out-qualified 4 times out of 17 by his team-mate Frentzen. (Villeneuve had 10 pole positions that year). His best qualifying position this season so far is 7th. We've seen him qualify higher in '99 and '00 with worse cars!
During the races this season he has done better than his team-mate and continues to be one of the few trying to overtake their opponents on the track but his car doesn't appear fast nor reliable enough. 
One highlight of Villeneuve's season so far is his podium finish in Spain, the first for BAR and Honda (since their return to F1) and for Jacques since '98, but is this enough ?

Has Jacques Villeneuve lost his edge ? Is he not trying hard enough ? Has his BAR adventure failed ? Are we going to see Villeneuve at the front fighting with the other top drivers ? Have Your Say (What others are saying)

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What others are saying:

Give him a better engine and we can judge him. Honda engine never have close-up with McLaren-Ferrari-BMW. With US20mil annual paycheck with BAR, why would he want to sit in Mika's seat for US10mil. If monetary is the issue, the motivation to push might not be there - Edmund - Malaysian

Villeneuve never WAS a great driver!!
He joined what was then the strongest, fastest team in F1,bar (no pun) none!!
The reason he beat Hill the next year is 'cause Damon was no hell of a driver either!
Jacques isn't washed up -he never REALLY was!! - Steyr - Canada

Well...I really think that Jacques has lost his edge now that he's been driving for B.A.R. for three years
His past speaks for himself "CART Champ and F1 Champ" so he has to be considered one of the best out there but his time has passed
Personally, I would prefer watching a young talent going to top teams "Ferrari - McLaren- Williams" and believe me at this stage we have enough
I think that Jacques has to accept that he will never get another shot at the tittle and as far as he is concerned he better remain at B.A.R. at least he has a Honda engine and a car managed by Pollock - Rob - Australia

It's been a hard stretch for Jacques. But as far as I can see, he's not a quitter. I believe that he has such a competitive nature and a will to win, that if he had lost "the edge", he'd be the first one to say so and would not be competing in F1 any longer! - Charles B - Canada

I think that Jacques Villeneuve does appear to be less competitive than he has in the past, but I'm not sure about the reasons for this. He did have a big accident at the start of the year, which most likely has contributed to his lack of pace, but I don't think that that is all it is. I think observers are having hard time accepting that Olivier Panis is just getting on top of Villeneuve a bit. I don't think that Panis is faster than Villeneuve, but it has been a while since his dominance has been threatened. Being a threat as Panis is, does make you ask questions about yourself and put you on the back foot a bit. I think he is simply experiencing a range of pressures combined with not having a super competitive motorcar. If the BAR turns out to be really fast next year I expect to see Villeneuve's performance come back at Olivier a little but not as much as everyone seems to assume - Kris - Australia

Lets not forget that F1 in particular is a race between teams. The pilot, the car, the technical team and the strategy in and out of races all count.

Those who would say that JV is too much this and not enough of that make incomplete statements. To say that JV's driving style maybe incompatible with the BAR car, this can be considered a valid statement amongst others. To say that Michael can win in any car, this perhaps could simply just allow him to be more mobile between teams.

Jacques gave all he had to BAR. Jacques was not just hired by BAR, he was part of the initial team strategy. Therefore, it would seemed normal for Jacques to expect a car designed for is driving style in this case.

There is a simple fact. All 4 pilots from both BAR and Jordan are excellent drivers. Both teams enjoy the Honda engine and technical commitment. Non of the 4 pilots deserve the BAR. With Jacque's unique relationship with BAR and Craig Pollock, I can understand a certain disappointment on his part.

Jacques does seem a bit less aggressive this year, he is fitting with a machine that does not work instead of fitting a race. In his place, many would be fed-up.

He needs to move on - Marc - Quebec, Canada

I think that Jacques Villeneuve is a great driver and if he was with a good team he could beat Michael like he did in '97 - Jim

I don't think Jacques was a good driver to start with he just happened to join a Williams team at the peak of performance, he is no Michael who can win races in any car. If he was going to get anything out of BAR he would have got it by now with the Honda engine. Lets put it this way chuck him in a Minardi and its Tarso Marques - Chris - Australia

As everyone that has followed him over the years knows there is only one place Jacques is comfortable and that is up front.  I think in the case of the BAR he then tends to overdrive what is inferior equipment in comparison to the Ferraris and McLarens. His desire to try and make the car go faster then it is capable of leads to lost time on the track, especially in qualifying. I could see a situation where a driver like Panis might be faster driving the car within it's limitations. I would be interested to see how they compare with on-track overtaking during the actually races. In fact it would be interesting to see those stats for all of the drivers - Stan - Canada

No way, he has not lost his edge. no-body really can. you only look to have lost your edge when others improve - N O'C - Ireland

He needs to go to McLaren or Jaguar if he wants success a second time around
I don't like his method of handling things and I truly prefer Mika "personality"
This does not have anything to do with the topic but I think he drives the car similar to the way Montoya does very different from let's say Frentzen or Heidfeld - Rob - Australia

Testing JV's competence by comparing him to (team-mate) Panis in qualifying is one of those statistics which is less revealing than it seems.  In the first place, when he was out-qualifying his team mate at Williams in 97, he had not only a competitive piece of machinery to drive; he had a different team-mate (compare R.B.'s record in "so-called" identical machinery to Michael's this year).  What I mean is that the machine of a contender for the title is always different from his team mates.  Without suggesting in any way that Heinz is an inferior pilot to O.P., they still are not the same drivers (don't even have similar styles).  J.V. is not losing any edge; if he were Ralph's team mate, he'd have more finishes and probably one victory.
Thanks for a provocative question! - Jim W - USA


I do not think that Jacques has lost the edge, in my view the confidence in the car takes away the one tenth here and there. Those who have followed Jacques career know he is constantly on the limit especially in Qualifying, I am not sure he has the level of confidence in the BAR entry, but I am convinced that with the proper equipment he is capable of top performances - Ray D - Quebec - Canada

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