Formula 1: Durango reveal Villeneuve link-up
Durango owner Ivone Pinton has revealed that his team are linking up with Jacques Villeneuve in a bid to return to F1.
Durango announced their F1 intentions in April, but their bid was met with scepticism after the GP2 team pulled out of the championship midway through the 2009 season with financial problems.
Earlier this week, former world champion Villeneuve revealed he was looking to return to the sport with his own team, but would not be drawn on how he would do it despite passing all hurdles imposed by the FIA for new teams attempting to enter the sport.
Durango’s GP2 rivals ART were favourites to take the 13th place in F1, but earlier this month withdrew their bid citing financial reasons, which makes it incredibly unlikely that Durango could run a credible F1 outfit without major backing.
It had been speculated that Durango would withdraw their own bid and could team up with Villeneuve, with the team -branded as Villeneuve Racing -being based at the former Arrows and Super Aguri base in Leafield, Oxfordshire, but Pinton has suggested otherwise.
“We still don’t know where the car would be built, but the team’s base will definitely be ours, in the Veneto”, he said.
“As well as being the driver, I’m sure [Villeneuve] will make a useful contribution to the company. I think he’s preparing a job to do after he hangs up his helmet.”
Durango have been involved in motorsport since the 1980s, running a F3000 team and since 2005 a GP2 team, before they stopped racing in 2009. Previous drivers include current F1 rookies Lucas di Grassi and Karun Chandhok.
The only reason for Villeneuve to get involved with Durango is for their facilities and team personnel, as they appear to have little in the way of funding. Who is actually bankrolling Villeneuve’s bid remains to be seen as the FIA are insisting new teams pay €24 million as a deposit upon entry to the sport.
Rivals to the Villeneuve/Durango bid include the experienced Basque racing team Epsilon Euskadi, and the largely unknown American Cypher Group – behind the rebirth of the failed and now disqualified USF1 project.