Sauber turned down DC, Panis, in ’05

Mon, 12 March 2007, 05:04

Peter Sauber has defended signing Jacques Villeneuve on a two year contract in 2005 by explaining that there were “no suitable alternatives” for the seat alongside Felipe Massa.

1997 world champion Villeneuve struggled in 2005 and departed mid last season after BMW took over.

Sauber, still a consultant for the Hinwil based BMW-Sauber team, agrees that if he had his time again, he would probably not put the French Canadian veteran’s name on the dotted line.

“Failure’s the wrong word,” the Swiss told the Credit Suisse emagazine. “At the time, there were no suitable alternatives on the market for that price.”

Sauber, who also said he rejected Olivier Panis, revealed that David Coulthard “offered his services” to the team for 2005 before signing for Red Bull.

He said: “(Coulthard) was a driver who’d for years been the number two with McLaren, and that weighed heavily with him.

“You’re reluctant to take on someone like that, even though at a personal level I’ve always found him very likeable.”

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