Various rumors have been circulating recently about 1997 F1 champ Jacques Villeneuve’s plans to form a new Formula 1 team. Although Villeneuve has kept mum until now, today he announced that he indeed had formed a partnership with the former GP2 outfit Durango.
In addition, Villeneuve said on his official website, “There are a number of rumours circulating at the moment and I wanted to clarify a few things before this gets out of hand. The team will be a joint venture with Durango, and based out of Italy. To be clear, right now all the money comes from corporate sponsorship, and not from personal investors.”
The latter part of this statement seems to address stories currently floating about that funding for the new Villeneuve venture would be sourced from Al-Saadi al-Gaddafi, the 37-year-old son of Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi. The junior Gaddafi is a former pro footballer of sorts (mostly as a bench warmer for minor leagues), who takes an active role in many of Libya’s business interests, including Tamoil, the oil refining and marketing company owned by the Libyan government.
Villeneuve seemed at pains to deny a Gaddafi connection, without actually mentioning him by name. But if sponsorship money were to flow from Tamoil, or some other corporate entity, that would certainly provide Villeneuve with enough of a grey area should he prefer to deny Gaddafi’s involvement.
Villeneuve hasn’t indicated whether his participation in the new team would be limited to ownership and management roles, or whether he would be hiring himself as a driver. He went to some lengths in advance of the 2010 season to gain a seat with one of this year’s newbie outfits, to no avail. So it’s entirely possible that he’s decided that the only way he’ll ever drive an F1 car in anger again is if he forms his own team.
Meanwhile, he hasn’t entirely given up on one of his other motorsport ambitions. This weekend, he’ll be competing in the Brickyard 400, a NASCAR event. Villeneuve will join Juan Pablo Montoya as being one of only two drivers to compete in the Indianapolis triple crown, as it were: the Indianapolis 500, the U.S. Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400. Naturally, it’s unlikely that any other driver will join them in the near future, as the U.S. Grand Prix hasn’t been run at Indy since 2006.