He's out of the headlines, nowhere to be found, lost to the sands of F1 time. Yet, no one seems to realize that Jacques Villeneuve isn't around.
So where is he?
He's been rolling around in a little Speed Car Series in the 2008 season. But let's take a look back and try to figure out what went wrong.
Villeneuve appeared in 16 races, recording three polls, four victories, 11 podiums, and 78 points. He was driving with Williams/Renault. It was his first year in F1.
He ran 17 races, recording 10 polls, seven victories, eight podiums, and 81 points. Still working with Williams/Renault, he won the World Driving Championship.
Things turn bad: 16 races, only two podiums, and 21 points. No victories, no polls. Nothing! There are those who believe it might have just been a bad year for the Canadian. Williams/Mecachrome (Renault left the sport) was not impressed.
Can we please just skip this year? Racing with BAR/Supertec, Villeneuve started 16 races and finished only four. That means he failed to finish 12 times. No polls, no victories, and not a single point.
There is a silver lining; it's in the shape of 17 points in 17 races. With BAR/Honda, he didn't win or score a podium, but at least he finished 13 races. It was a big improvement over the previous year.
Could this be the comeback year? Not exactly. Although he was on the up-slope, finishing the year with two podiums, he only got 12 points. Still with BAR/Honda he finished 11 races. So much for those two podiums, I guess.
In 17 races, he scored four points. That's it! Nothing else. Need I say more?
In 15 races, he scored only six points. No victories or podiums and, still racing with BAR/Honda.
Villeneuve was in a meager three races with Renault team. No polls, no victories, no podiums, no points. Why can't we have another 1997?
At this point he'd been around for 10 years—no longer the cub of the pack. But even with his experience, now offered to Sauber/Petronas, he couldn't seem to take home a win. He ran in 19 races (a personal best) and obtained nine points.
BMW Sauber gave him a chance, but he didn't deliver. In his 12 starts, he had seven points. He called it quits. His time was behind him—almost a decade behind him, actually. F1 was no longer good for him, so why not NASCAR? Or the 24 hour LeMans?
After his last year in F1, he tried Le Mans. I think he should have stayed in LM. In his first race, his partners and himself got second place driving with Peugeot.
He tried the Craftsman series to initiate himself into the world of Earnhardt and Petty. Driving the No. 27, he did not win anything but was respected for his control of his craft. His previous 11 years of professional auto racing showed he was a very mature driver.
In 2008, he tried qualifying for the Daytona 500, driving Toyota. He did well, but again, nothing came up. He didn't qualify and was out of a ride afterward.
So, where did the Canadian driver go? We may never really know what made him drop after his championship season. He may shine in the headlines again, but it won't be soon.
All Canadians are proud of what he did, even if it's not much. But, he will never be seen in the same light as Michael Schumacher or even his father, Gilles Villeneuve, who has become an F1 and Canadian icon.
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