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Trulli out, Villeneuve in at Renault 15 Sep 2004

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, 28 June 2003

Jacques Villeneuve could make a Formula One comeback with Renault at next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix after the team parted company with Jarno Trulli on Tuesday.

Former champion Villeneuve had a seat-fitting at Renault’s Enstone base on Tuesday evening, and will begin acclimatising himself to the Renault R24 at Silverstone on Wednesday, ahead of a possible race return in Shanghai.

"We have reached an agreement for Jacques to test for the team at Silverstone on Wednesday and Thursday,” confirmed Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “This test might lead to Jacques joining the team for the final three races of the season beginning next week at the Chinese Grand Prix."

The move follows a mutual agreement between Renault and Trulli to part company three races early. The Italian, who won the Monaco Grand Prix earlier this year, had already announced that he planned to leave the team at the end of the season to move to another, as yet undisclosed, squad for 2005.

"I am very comfortable with this decision,” said Trulli. “I would like to thank Renault for their support since 2002, and for the success we enjoyed together. I am grateful to the team for releasing me from my obligations, which will give me the opportunity to start with my new team sooner than expected."

Should Villeneuve race in China, it will be the French-Canadian’s first competitive Formula One appearance since the 2003 United States Grand Prix, after which he dramatically quit the BAR team on learning that he was to be replaced by Takuma Sato for the 2004 season.

Villeneuve has a long-standing association with Renault, who were engine suppliers to Williams when he won the drivers’ championship with the British team in 1997.