The Indianapolis 500 will bring its standard fare of fame and fortune to its champion Jacques Villeneuve, but it also will bring even more offers to lure the 24-year-old Canadian away from Indy car racing.
Craig Pollack, Villeneuve’s manager, was at the San Marino Grand Prix earlier this month listening to offers from some of Formula I’s top operations and Sunday’s victory can only improve Villeneuve’s bargaining position.
“The interest is there and there are a lot of talks, but now is too early anyway, be it Indy car or F-1, to really know what’s happening for the year after,” said Villeneuve, the fifthyoungest driver to win the Indy 500. “… I’d be really happy to stay with the team (Team Green). It’s a great team and we working really well together and it’s a great feeling. But before making a decision you need all the cards in our hand so you can weigh them to make your decision. Right now, we do not have all the cards in our hand.”
Many think that Villeneuve’s second year in IndyCar will be his last, expecting him to follow his late father into Formula I. Villeneuve’s father, Gilles, was a Formula I star who died while qualifying for a race in 1982.
“What he did doesn’t affect my decision at all,” Villeneuve said. “I’m not competing with his reputation. I don’t want to walk in his shadow. I’m not racing for him.”
Villeneuve’s postrace celebration Sunday was tame, according to him, and he was back at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway early Monday morning. He returned in uniform for more champion photos and attended the champions’ dinner later that evening.
“It wasn’t the type of (postrace) party where you go crazy,” Villeneuve said. “We had to be here this morning.”
Villeneuve had some time to reflect on his accomplishment and it is slowly beginning to sink in.
“For any driver, this is like winning the Olympics,” he said. “It’s got a big effect on anyone’s career, not that you’ll change your way of driving or working or just go somewhere else because of it, but it will sure change your position.”
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