|First race||Australian Grand Prix||Albert Park||March 10, 1996||Race results|
|Last race||German Grand Prix||Hockenheim||July 30, 2006||Race results|
Jacques Villeneuve may have lost his father Gilles to a crash in Formula One when he was just 11, but he went on to secure the surname what many would agree is its rightful place on the list of past world champions.
Villeneuve was fifteen when he really started to follow in his father's footsteps, enrolling in the same racing school that Gilles had attended in Quebec. In 1989 he moved in to Italian Formula Three, spending three years there before he headed to the Japanese Formula Three Championship, where he finished second in his debut season in 1992. The following year he returned to North America, where a third place finish in the Formula Atlantic Championship secured him a drive in the Indy Car World Series.
His two years in Indy Car were successful ones, earning the Rookie of the Year accolade in his first season, and then taking the driver's championship in 1995. That led to his move in to Formula One, gaining a seat at Williams alongside Damon Hill. He very nearly won on his debut, leading for most of the race at Melbourne before an oil leak caused him to have to settle for second behind Hill. It was a position he also held come the end of the season, with four race wins seeing him take the fight with his team-mate all the way to the final round in Japan.
With Hill leaving Williams, Villeneuve became the number one driver, and seven race wins were enough for him to take the title, despite Michael Schumacher's best attempt to take him out of the deciding race at Jerez. He was unable to defend his crown too vigorously in 1998 however, as an underperforming car saw him only achieve two podium finishes. That disappointment saw Villeneuve leave the team to join newly-founded BAR, who predicted race wins but failed to finish a race until the 12th round of the 1999 season. While the following years saw some improvements, with consecutive 7th places in the championship, the promised victories never materialised.
Villeneuve never got another title-challenging drive, moving to Renault and then Sauber before leaving Formula One in 2006 to return to America. He stated his desire to return in 2010, but his plans for a seat never came to fruition. He also tried to set up his own team for the 2011 season in a joint venture with Italian team Durango, but again the project proved unsuccessful.
Strengths and weaknesses
Immediately quick in Formula One, Villeneuve was strong at setting up a quick car as ten pole positions in his championship year demonstrates. His self-confidence could come back to bite him though, as happened when he was outpaced by the much less-experienced Jenson Button at BAR in 2003.
Beating Michael Schumacher to the 1997 title, winning seven races to the German's five.
Refusing to race for BAR in Japan after learning he was to be replaced by Takuma Sato the following season.
"Between 1999 and 2004, I experienced firsthand the difficulties and complexities involved in setting up a new team. But I've never been afraid of a challenge."
"My goal is not to be a race-car driver. The reason I'm racing is because I enjoy being in the car and being on the edge."
He has had an unsuccessful music career, releasing an album called Private Paradise in 2007. It sold only 836 copies.