BAR retain leading driver

Jacques Villeneuve, the former world champion, has signed a three-year contract extension with British American Racing.

Jacques Villeneuve, the former world champion, has signed a three-year contract extension with British American Racing.

There had been rumours that the Canadian was going to make a £20m switch to Benetton, but he has ended the speculation by keeping faith with the Honda-powered team. Villeneuve, world champion with the Williams team in 1997, had hinted he was ready to leave BAR in order to challenge for a second title.

Villeneuve could be joined at BAR next season by Jenson Button as Williams are expected soon to confirm that the young Briton is being replaced by Juan Pablo Montoya who drives on one of the two American Indy Car series.

Villeneuve's new deal - reputedly worth £25m - is a boost to the Brackley-based team which failed to score a point in its debut season last year. "It was a difficult decision, but I am happy to stay with the team after two years of hard work," said the 1997 champion, who has finished fourth in the last two races. "It is rewarding to see progress. I would like to continue with the team and to continue with that progress."

Craig Pollock, the managing director, said: "We are absolutely delighted with Jacques' decision and the fact he has registered a significant vote of confidence in British American Racing. Jacques has been an integral part of the team since its formation two years ago, and his commitment indicates that he shares our belief that this is an organisation with which he can win races, and ultimately the World Championship."

Villeneuve's recent fourth-place finishes - at the Austrian and French grands prix - has helped the team to move up to fifth in the manufacturers' championship this season with 12 points, one point ahead of Jordan - who will also be powered by Honda next year.

However, BAR, which is funded by around £40m a year by British American Tobacco, did not confirm Ricardo Zonta as their second driver for 2001 last night.

The Brazilian could be released - Arrows are one of the favourites for his signature - with Button being lined up as a replacement. Button's other options will be Benetton - who are set to ditch the Austrian Alexander Wurz, who has struggled this season - and Jordan, if they lose Jarno Trulli to Benetton.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever