Villeneuve's video game speed test

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The Independent Online

Jacques Villeneuve is hoping to get up to speed for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix with the help of a Formula One video game. The 1997 world champion missed the inaugural race at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit last year after being dropped by BAR-Honda at the end of 2003. Now making a comeback with Sauber-Petronas, after three races at Renault late last season, the Canadian will be one of five drivers racing for the first time in the Middle East.

Jacques Villeneuve is hoping to get up to speed for Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix with the help of a Formula One video game. The 1997 world champion missed the inaugural race at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit last year after being dropped by BAR-Honda at the end of 2003. Now making a comeback with Sauber-Petronas, after three races at Renault late last season, the Canadian will be one of five drivers racing for the first time in the Middle East.

"I haven't seen it but I know that it's dry, sunny and sandy so visually it must be very interesting," he said of the circuit. "Talking with other drivers, they say that the track is fun to drive but I didn't see the race on TV last year so I don't really know what to expect.

"I am also going to play with an F1 video game that includes this track to get used to the layout, but I will really have to find out when I get there."

Mark Webber, meanwhile, has reported fit for the race after revealing that he drove with a fractured rib in the season-opening Australian and Malaysian races.

"He didn't test in Barcelona last week because he wanted a bit more time and asked Williams if he could rest," the Australian's partner and manager, Ann Neal, said. "But he's fine now. He's been doing a lot of fitness over the weekend."

Neal said Webber, who joined the Williams-BMW team from Jaguar-Cosworth at the end of last year, had picked up the injury in pre-season testing in Spain. "It was basically a consequence of not warming up properly," she said.

Webber had tested in Valencia in February and did an installation lap without performing his usual warm-up exercises before going out in the car.

Webber's injury had not been diagnosed at the time of either race. At the weekend, Juan Pablo Montoya, of McLAren-Mercedes sustained a hairline fracture of his shoulder while playing tennis at the weekend.

McLaren are expected to say tomorrow whether the Colombian can race or not. The team's Spanish test driver, Pedro de la Rosa, formerly of Jaguar, is standing by.

BAR's Japanese driver Takuma Sato is said to be "fighting fit" and ready to race this weekend after missing the Malaysian Grand Prix with a viral infection.

His manager, Andrew Gilbert-Scott, said Sato had flown to Bahrain from London on Monday after passing a full medical the day before.

"He's completely clear and the doctors say he's fighting fit," he said. "It was purely a virus and it's out of his system now."

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