TSN.ca Staff // 12/1/2005 9:09:21 AM
Jacques Villeneuve will not be going anywhere in 2006. The Canadian has been confirmed as Nick Heidfeld's teammate on the BMW-Sauber Formula One team for next season.
"We took a close look at Jacques' performance level at the end of last season. After an extremely tough first half of the year - which showed that even a former World Champion cannot come back after a period away and be competitive from day one - he got closer and closer to his team-mate over the second half of the season," explained BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen.
"We are in no doubt that Jacques will make the BMW Sauber F1 Team stronger."
Despite months of speculation, which had linked Alexander Wurz and Sebastien Bourdais to the F1 ride, Villeneuve maintained he had an iron-clad contract to return with the team in 2006.
"Between 1999 and 2004 I experienced first-hand the difficulties and complexities involved in setting up a new team," said Villeneuve, "but I've never been afraid of a challenge. Sauber was already a good team and now we also have the resources of BMW behind us. I will do everything I can to contribute to the success of the BMW Sauber F1 Team."
It's also believed that Villeneuve's buyout clause, rumored to be upwards of $15-million, did not make financial sense for BMW, who will enter the sport as a constructor for the first time next year.
Villeneuve will begin his winter test campaign with BMW-Sauber next week at Jerez, Spain using the interim C24B chassis which has already been fitted with the new V8 engine.