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Villeneuve and BMW part company 07 Aug 2006

Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) BMW Sauber F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 27 July 2006

Jacques Villeneuve will not be racing with BMW Sauber for the remainder of the 2006 season, it was announced on Monday. Following discussions last week, both parties agreed to terminate their current contract with immediate effect, five races ahead of schedule.

Villeneuve chose not to race at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix following his high-speed crash at the previous round in Germany. His place was taken by the team’s third driver Robert Kubica and BMW say they are now keen to focus on their future line-up.

"Jacques has performed well for us this year, scoring the team's first grand prix points in Malaysia - he has made a significant contribution to developing the newly formed BMW Sauber F1 Team and the performance of the car,” said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen.

“However, after Jacques' accident in the Hockenheim race the team decided to review its options for next year, including assessing Robert Kubica in a race environment. Our decision to look towards evaluating our driver line up has naturally impacted Jacques' position for the remainder of this season.

"We fully understand that it is difficult for Jacques to maintain his natural level of commitment in circumstances of uncertainty. We respect his position and wish him well for the future."

For his part, Villeneuve said that BMW’s failure to offer any assurance of him regaining his race seat after Hungary had led to a breakdown in his relationship with the team

"This is really disappointing as I was looking forward to working with BMW on longer terms - going into next season capitalising on our common experiences,” he told his official website. “I will now have more time to concentrate on future projects. Finally, I would like to thank the team, especially my engineers and the team's sponsors with whom I have had real pleasure working with in the last year."

Villeneuve, world champion with Williams in 1997, joined Sauber from Renault in 2005 and stayed on with the team when they were acquired by BMW in time for the 2006 season. The Canadian has made no official comment regarding potential drives for 2007, and it remains to be seen whether Monday’s announcement will signal his retirement from Formula One racing.