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Villeneuve explains poor Melbourne result 11 Mar 2005

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 5 March 2005

Sauber’s Jacques Villeneuve has claimed that the wrong tyre choice contributed to his disappointing showing in the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

Villeneuve’s performance was the subject of much scrutiny after he fell from fourth on the grid to finish 13th, a lap down on the leaders. In contrast, team mate Felipe Massa came through from 18th at the start to take tenth place.

“I had soft tyres on and I think it clearly wasn't the right choice,” Villeneuve told his official web site. “The car was moving a lot and after the first pit stop - it was just too slow.”

Villeneuve’s claims were born out by the fastest lap times, which saw him ranked 15th of the 20 drivers, with his best effort almost a second down on Massa’s.

Ironically, his strong qualifying performance was as much down to tyre choice as his poor race result. In Saturday’s rain-hit session he was the first driver brave enough to venture out on dry rubber – a gamble that paid off despite spins on both his out and in laps.

Though it all came to nothing on Sunday afternoon, the former champion insisted there were some positives: “I could get some valuable information that I will be able to use for the following races. It will take longer than expected but things should get better with a few races in the bag.”

The Australian Grand Prix was the first race of Villeneuve’s full-time comeback to Formula One racing. Having lost his BAR seat at the end of 2003, he drove the final three rounds of last season for Renault before signing for Sauber.