Official warning for Villeneuve

Motor racing
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Jacques Villeneuve, the Formula One World championship leader who is tipped to lift the title this season, received a warning from the sport's governing body yesterday for criticising planned regulation changes.

After appearing before the world council of the FIA, the world governing body of the sport, the Williams-Renault driver said in Paris that he could face a ban if he upset the authorities again. "It's just a warning which means I might get a suspension next time, if there is a next time," he said.

The Canadian, who will be driving in his home grand prix on Sunday, created uproar in the paddock at Imola last April by insisting that the changes for 1998, involving the use of grooved tyres and narrower cars, were "ridiculous".

On the eve of the opening day's practice for the San Marino Grand Prix, Villeneuve said: "These new regulations are just a joke. To run on these tyres is just ridiculous. It takes all the precision out of the driving and the racing - as well as the fun - and it is just a ridiculous idea."

After talking to the FIA president, Max Mosley, and other officials for 10 minutes, he said: "It was a discussion to make things clear and everything went well. The problem is not what I've said but the way I said it. I should have used other words."

Mosley said in Monaco last month that the changes would stand, having been proposed by the team's engineers, agreed unanimously, and passed by the FIA's world council.