Jacques Villeneuve has responded to his being replaced in the Vanwall Racing line up, saying he is ‘deeply disappointed’ in the decision.
The 1995 Indy 500 winner and 1997 Formula 1 World Champion will be replaced at Vanwall, formerly known as ByKolles, by Tristan Vautier for the 24 Hours of Le Mans next weekend.
In a statement, the Canadian said: “I am deeply disappointed to have learned of my replacement for the upcoming Le Mans 24hrs through a public announcement released by the Vanwall Racing Team ByKolles on May 25th, 2023.
“To date, I have not received any official communication from the team, which is even more surprising given that I am still under contract to participate in the Le Mans 24hrs race.”
He raced for the team at the first three FIA World Endurance Championship events this year, at Sebring, Portimao, and Spa. However, he was somewhat off the pasce at all three and crashed at Portimao and Spa, the former due to a brake failure and the latter caused by an altercation with a GTE-Am Ferrari.
His statement continued: “The timing of the release strangely coincided with my impending arrival at the hospital for the birth of our baby daughter, which had been planned for May 26th. ByKolles was well aware of this personal family event, rendering me unable to respond or address this sudden announcement.
“As a racing family, we have always successfully balanced our personal lives with our professional careers, with racing always holding a prominent place. In fact, my preparation for the Le Mans 24hrs event was meticulous and well-organized.
“Considerable time and effort were dedicated to achieving peak physical and mental readiness for this extraordinary challenge that I was really looking forward to. Following victories in the Indy500, Indycar and the F1 Championship, the Le Mans 24hrs holds special significance for me. Consequently, I am deeply disheartened that the opportunity to participate has been unjustly and arbitrarily denied.
“Under these circumstances, I have made the decision to abstain from participating in the remainder of the WEC season with Bykolles. Instead, I will redirect my focus and energies towards preparing for a more successful and professionally fulfilling 2024 racing season.”