Alonso favourite: Villeneuve

Wed, 18 January 2006, 02:34

F1 The current world champion is favourite to retain his title in 2006.

At least that’s the opinion of BMW Sauber driver former champion Jacques Villeneuve, who collected the sport’s biggest trophy back in 1997.

JV, 34, thinks Spain’s 24-year-old Fernando Alonso is the man to beat.

“He did well last season,” the French Canadian said at the launch of BMW Sauber’s 2006 car in Spain, “so I don’t see a reason why it would suddenly change.”

Paddock players like Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne, however, reckon that Alonso’s already-announced switch from Renault to McLaren for 2007 could unsettle the constructors’ title team.

The Englishman said: “It can’t help but have some effect.”

But Villeneuve doesn’t see it that way. Why, he wonders, would a mere press release alter Alonso and Renault’s desire to win, or slow down the car?

“I can’t image that Alonso suddenly slows down, or the team stops working well,” Jacques said.

“Nobody acts against his own interests, so I could see this year turning out just the same.”

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