Threat of ban for Villeneuve

Motor racing
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The Independent Online
Jacques Villeneuve, the world championship leader, faces the prospect of a fine or even a ban when he appears before motor sport's authorities tomorrow to explain a series of critical statements about Formula One racing.

The Canadian, who endeavours to tighten his grip on the title in his home grand prix on Sunday, claims recent safety measures have been too extreme and reflect an over-reaction following the death of Ayrton Senna, three years ago.

He has said also that new regulations scheduled for next season - including narrower cars and grooved tyres - will make racing more boring, tempting drivers to consider a switch to IndyCars.

Villeneuve's assertions, in only his second season of Formula One, have incensed the sport's world governing body, the FIA. Its president, Max Moseley, has already given the 26-year-old driver a public rap over the knuckles.

Moseley said: "If he thinks it's not fun, I'm sorry." He went on: "The drivers have their millions to spend on all the fun they want."

According to the grapevine, Moseley has told Villeneuve in unequivocal terms that if he is not happy with Formula One he should go back to IndyCars. The maverick driver can expect a similar message when he faces the FIA's world council in Paris.

Moseley appears determined to uphold the authority of the FIA and may seek to make an example of Villeneuve. The FIA has an almost unlimited range of sanctions available, including heavy fines and suspensions.

Villeneuve and Williams will be particularly aggrieved he has been summoned so close to the Canadian Grand Prix, forcing him to delay his flight to Montreal.

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