F1

Villeneuve prepares to test the Vanwall Le Mans Hypercar

The 1997 F1 title winner is one of four drivers who will take the wheel of the Gibson-powered Vanwall Vandervell LMH over the course of a three-day test at the Spanish track starting on Wednesday.

Villeneuve, 51, is known to share the potential FIA World Endurance Championship contender with Tom Dillmann and Esteban Guerrieri, who have done the majority of testing with the car so far this year, and Joao Paulo de Oliveira.

Dillmann and Guerrieri are the nominated test drivers for the Vanwall LMH developed by German operation ByKolles, while de Oliveira, who won the Formula Nippon (now Super Formula) title in 2010, has links to the team since his involvement in the German formula. 3 in 2002.

There was no confirmation from the team about Villeneuve’s participation in the test.

Villeneuve was part of the Peugeot line-up with the 908 HDi turbodiesel LMP1 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007 and 2008, finishing second in the second of those years with Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian.

He described his desire to join Peugeot to add a Le Mans win to his F1 title and 1995 Indy 500 win and is understood to still harbor aspirations in the French classic.

jacques villeneuve

Photo by: Carl Bingham/Motorsport Images

Villeneuve described this as the triple crown of motorsport, which usually incorporates the Monaco Grand Prix rather than the F1 world championship.

Villeneuve’s most recent sporting experience, which this year contested the blue ribbon of the NASCAR Cup at the Daytona 500 behind the wheel of a Ford from the Hezeberg team, came in 2019 when he participated in three endurance rounds of the Italian GT Championship driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo. .

Daytona’s departure followed his participation in the NASCAR-sanctioned Whelen Euro Series: he had a full season in 2019 and partial seasons in 2020 and 2021.

The Barcelona race is the last test for the non-hybrid Vanwall, which has been running since the end of March.

It received a shakedown at Zweibrucken airfield before moving quickly to Most in the Czech Republic for its first test on a racing circuit.

It is understood that ByKolles will field a minimum of one WEC entry next year under the Vanwall Racing banner.

His bid to join the series this year from the second round at Spa was thwarted when series promoter Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA ​​refused his entry.

Series boss Frederic Lequien declined to give specific reasons for the Vanwall’s rejection, but it is understood that concerns over ByKolles’ right to use the name of the former F1 team that won the 1958 constructors’ title and his modest record in LMP1 with his contender CLM P1/01 were among them.

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The LMH rules also state that an entrant must prove that they have an association with an existing automotive brand.

Plans for the relaunched Vanwall brand include a 1000bhp hybrid supercar and extreme track-day machine, while more vehicles are also understood to be planned.

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