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Villeneuve to race in China 17 Sep 2004

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Renault is interviewed by the media. Formula 1 Testing, Silverstone, 15 September 2004. World © Hartley/Sutton

Former champion to make comeback in Shanghai

Renault have confirmed that Jacques Villeneuve will partner Fernando Alonso for the final three races of the 2004 Formula One season, starting with next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. It follows a successful test for the former champion at Silverstone this week.

The French-Canadian completed 700 kilometres during his two days of running, acclimatising himself to the Renault R24 after nearly twelve months away from the cockpit of a Formula One car.

On his second day in the car Villeneuve, who will drive for Sauber next season, was less than a tenth slower than pacesetter Takuma Sato. It was obviously enough to convince Renault that he has the form to take over from Jarno Trulli, who moved to Toyota earlier this week.

"We are very excited to welcome Jacques Villeneuve to Renault for the final three Grands Prix of the 2004 season,” commented the Renault team’s Managing Director Flavio Briatore. “He is highly motivated and has impressed us with his performance this week. I would also like to thank Peter Sauber for his collaboration in this matter.

"The Renault F1 Team's objective is now to claim second place in the Constructors' Championship and we are focused intently on doing so."

To claim that second place, Renault need to beat BAR, the team that Villeneuve left on less than amicable terms following the 2003 United States Grand Prix.