Lotus' Boss Denies Villeneuve Links

Jacques Villeneuve is not a target for the new Lotus F1 Team for their 2010 drivers lineup, at least if we are to believe the outfit's boss Tony Fernandes. While present at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco this week, the aforementioned official ruled out the possibility that the 1997 F1 champion will join the team in their rookie F1 campaign.

Fernandes is owner of Malaysian airline company AirAsia and has been named team boss by Lotus for their F1 operations. Although he hinted, earlier this year that his role within the team is likely to be a temporary one, Fernandes told the media this week that he plans to stick around for the F1 action throughout the entire 2010 season.

And the most important decision he'll make as a team boss is setting up a competitive drivers' lineup for next season. On the one hand, Jarno Trulli has been widely rumored to join the Malaysian team for their 2010 campaign ever since his relationship with Toyota became colder in the second part of last season. On the other hand, we have Villeneuve, who has been spotted making an intriguing visit to the Lotus headquarters in the UK quite recently.

What we do know is that Lotus will be looking to field an experienced driver in 2010, alongside (probably) a young talented rookie. Considering the good relationship between Trulli and Lotus' technical chief Mike Gascoyne (from the time spent working together at Toyota), we'd be inclined to think the Italian driver has the highest chances of joining the team.

In addition, Trulli's pace in qualifying and testing is far more productive than Villeneuve's, as the Canadian hasn't stepped into an F1 cockpit ever since he left the series in 2006.

As far as Fernandes is concerned, he did make it very clear that pay-drivers will not be the criteria by which he'll choose his racers in 2010.

We know we aren't going to be competing (at the front) in year one, but it takes time and we'll have a good basis for moving forward,” said the Malaysian official, according to the GMM news agency.
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