Villeneuve 'will be fit' for Spanish GP

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The Independent Online

The former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve was still undergoing treatment on a back injury yesterday, but his team, British American Racing, said yesterday that he will be fit for Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix.

The Canadian driver, who won the drivers' title in 1997, had to withdraw from a test run at Barcelona on Friday, raising fears that he could miss the fifth race of the season.

"Jacques did give up testing at Barcelona a day early," a BAR spokesman, Graham Jones, said. "He drove on Thursday, but pulled out of the Friday session. But there is no question of him missing the Spanish Grand Prix. He has gone off with his trainer to work on the problem and we are confident he will be OK.

"He is undergoing a course of physiotherapy and will seek more medical advice if he has to. But knowing Jacques he will just take some pain-killers and get on with it," he added.

Jones said that if Villeneuve was forced to pull out, he would probably be replaced by the team's official test driver, Darren Manning, and not the Frenchman Patrick Lemarie, who took over from the Canadian for the final day of testing.

"Patrick is a good driver, but Darren is the test team driver and it is more than likely that he would take over from Jacques," said Jones.

Villeneuve is currently in seventh place in the drivers' championship with five points but he has yet to record a podium finish. BAR are sixth in the constructors' table, with six points.