F1 champion hits back after team 'snubs' him while he's away for daughter's birth
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Former Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve has slated his team after being dropped weeks before the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans.
When it comes to motorsport, Villeneuve is very much part of the furniture.
The Canadian driver won the 1997 F1 title in just his second season in the sport and after quitting in 2006, he moved into other disciplines including NASCAR and Formula E.
Back in 2008, he finished second at the Le Mans 24-hour race with Peugeot and last year made a return to endurance racing.
The 52-year-old was set to compete at the famous event once more this month, only for Vanwall Racing Team ByKolles to replace him with Tristan Vautier.
Villeneuve, who has been off duty recently due to the birth of his daughter, issued an angry response.
"I am deeply disappointed to have learned of my replacement for the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hours, through a public announcement released by the Vanwall Racing Team ByKolles on May 25th, 2023," he said.
"To date, I have not received any official communication from the team, which is even more surprising given that I am still under contract to participate in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
"The timing of the release strangely coincided with my impending arrival at the hospital for the birth of our baby daughter, which had been planned for May 26th.
"ByKolles was well aware of this personal family event, rendering me unable to respond or address this sudden announcement.
NEWS: Official statement from Jacques Villeneuve on his break with Vanwall Racing. pic.twitter.com/S6ZKk0yIu1— Jacques Villeneuve News (@VilleneuveNews) May 31, 2023
"As a racing family, we have always successfully balanced our personal lives with our professional careers, with racing always holding a prominent place. In fact, my preparation for the Le Mans 24 Hours event was meticulous and well-organised.
"Considerable time and effort were dedicated to achieving peak physical and mental readiness for this extraordinary challenge that I was really looking forward to.
"Following victories in the Indy 500, IndyCar and the F1 championship, the Le Mans 24 Hours holds special significance for me. Consequently, I am deeply disheartened that the opportunity to participate has been unjustly and arbitrarily denied."
Villeneuve went on to announce his withdrawal from the rest of this year's WEC campaign.
"Instead, I will redirect my focus and energies towards preparing for a more successful and professionally fulfilling 2024 racing season."