BMW boss defends Villeneuve axe

Fri, 1 December 2006, 09:28

BMW-Sauber team principal Mario Theissen has defended his mid-2006 decision to jettison Jacques Villeneuve and replace the former champion with rookie Robert Kubica.

The commentator and triple drivers’ title winner Niki Lauda observed earlier this year that an F1 boss is ‘not there to pick up the Nobel Peace Prize, he’s there to win races’.

Asked about Villeneuve’s departure in late July, BMW motor sport director Theissen told the Credit Suisse Emagazine: “(Lauda) hit the nail on the head, didn’t he?”

Asked if he would repeat the move, the German answered: “Yes, for sure.”

Whether Jacques’ dumping was good manners or not, the Polish rookie Kubica was among the finds of 2006 and is currently being touted as a champion of the future.

“I don’t think we should jump the gun but he’s certainly got the ability,” Theissen said, agreeing that the 21-year-old’s promotion gave teammate and veteran Nick Heidfeld ‘a jolt’.

According to the Hinwil based team’s chief, the new Heidfeld-Kubica rivalry actually nearly spiralled out of control.

Theissen confirmed: “Rivalry can sometimes go too far. It’s the job of the team to channel this. In the season just finished, we experienced one or two situations that we want to avoid in future.”


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