BWT Alpine F1 Team celebrated the 25th anniversary of Jacques Villeneuve’s World Championship landmark title.
The Canadian entered F1 in 1996 as the reigning IndyCar and Indy 500 Champion. With just one season under his belt, he fought for the 1997 title in an epic, season-long battle with Michael Schumacher. After seven victories, the title culminated in a dramatic showdown at the European Grand Prix in Jerez. The race went down in F1 history and Villeneuve’s title was decided when Schumacher made a late lunge that put the latter out of the race – and ultimately championship standings.
Twenty-five years on Villeneuve was re-acquainted with Renault power thanks to a unique outing at Monza in BWT Alpine F1 Team’s A521 car, which won the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix in the hands of Esteban Ocon.
Following a seat fit and simulator session at Alpine’s F1 HQ in Enstone, UK, Villeneuve was handed the A521 for a test around the Temple of Speed on 14 September. He completed 18 faultless laps, with Esteban on hand to give insight into the behaviour of the hybrid Power Unit and contemporary F1 car behaviour.
Jacques was also reunited with Alpine Sporting Director, Alan Permane, who was Jacques’ race engineer when he moved across to Alpine’s predecessors Renault F1 Team in 2004.
Jacques Villeneuve:“Testing the 2021 Alpine F1 car at Monza was an incredible experience. The last F1 car I drove was in 2006 and the cornering speed of the modern cars is unbelievable. It was fun to work with engineers and team, taking it seriously – it brought back many memories. I drove three races for the team in 2004 and even saw some familiar faces. It’s not every day you can drive an F1 car in your 50s and the time spent in the garage and driving around Monza was total bliss. The professional approach Alpine had made during that test was amazing and a memory now forever inked.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:“It was a real pleasure to welcome Jacques to Alpine for a short time at Monza. Many of the team remember his 1997 win and some were there when he raced for Renault in 2004, myself included! Jacques approached the day very humbly; wishing to learn and fit in to do the best job he possibly could. He was exceptionally professional and chipped away at the performance and times throughout the day. He can be very proud that he was not far off the laptime from last year’s race – it shows that a thoroughbred champion never quite loses the magic touch!”
Jacques’ test was filmed by CANAL+ France and a full-length feature of the run will be broadcast in the Pre-Show of CANAL+ coverage of the Singapore GP on Sunday 2 October. It will also be online on the international platform myCANAL at the same time.
Teasers will be released on BWT Alpine F1 Team social channels.