Villeneuve sticks with BAR

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has re-signed for British American Racing for a further three years.

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has re-signed for British American Racing for a further three years.

The Canadian, who had been tipped to make a £20million switch to Benetton, has ended weeks of speculation about his future by keeping faith with the Honda-powered outfit.

Villeneuve could be joined at BAR next season by Jenson Button with Williams expected soon to confirm that the young Brit is being replaced by Champ Car star Juan Pablo Montoya.

Villeneuve's new three-year deal - reputedly worth £25million - is a massive 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."

Managing director Craig Pollock 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 to stay indicates that he shares our belief that this is an organisation with which he can win races, and ultimately the World Championship, in the future."

Villeneuve's recent fourth place finish has helped the team 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.

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

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 struggling Austrian Alexander Wurz - and Jordan, if they lose Jarno Trulli to Benetton.

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