Villeneuve absence sets tongues wagging

Fri, 4 August 2006, 01:20

Arguably the hottest topic on the eve of Hungary’s grand prix this weekend is the absence of BMW-Sauber regular Jacques Villeneuve.

Officially, the French Canadian is recovering from a headache caused by his heavy Hockenheim shunt, but teammate Nick Heidfeld noted to ‘Blick’ in Budapest: ”Some people doubt it.”

Heidfeld is well-accustomed to such speculation, after cynical journalists wondered whether his absence from the final races of last year with Williams had less to do with injury than BMW politics.

A not-so-coy team boss Mario Theissen told reporters on Thursday: ”We are starting to think about next year and certainly this is an opportunity for us to see how Robert (Kubica) copes with a race situation.”

Heidfeld, however, expressed anxiety about the loss of Polish youngster Kubica as pilot of an unrestricted ‘third car’ in Friday practice.

”He was very good at helping us select the tyres,” the German noted.

But he insisted: ”For me it doesn’t matter what my teammate’s name is.”

Michael Schumacher, however, expressed satisfaction with the Kubica appointment. In 1997 he acrimoniously collided with Villeneuve in the decisive phase of the title, and has not got along with him ever since.

”I see it as a good career development for Robert,” said the German, ”and a reasonable decision (by BMW).”


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