One decision in Villeneuve’s career, ‘difficult to digest’

Looking back recently on his time in Formula 1, Jacques Villeneuve was reminded of one decision which could have altered the course of his career.

Following his championship year with Williams in 1997, Villeneuve committed to building a whole new outfit, called British American Racing, in collaboration with manager and friend Craig Pollock.

But in the midst of the planned set-up, a phone call one evening from McLaren’s Adrian Newey while he was having dinner with Pollock could have changed his destiny.

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“Adrian Newey called me and told me not to sign with BAR,” Villeneuve remembered in an interview with Autosport

“He said, ‘We want you’. It was easy to chat in those days. But when he called me, I was sitting next to Craig.

“I could not have a proper chat. I remember where we were – in life, you have a few memories, like winning the championship – and that one call, from someone like Adrian, is an important memory.”

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While brief, the exchange was clear and Villeneuve was left with a decision, which he assumed.

“We were in a restaurant in Monaco. Had Craig not been there I would have had a longer chat and Adrian would have probably been able to convince me to join.

“But there wasn’t an opportunity for that. Things in life turn on a second. It was one call and it didn’t go any further than that.

“They ended up winning championships [in 1998 and ’99]. That is difficult to digest.”

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