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Villeneuve rumoured to be favourite for Stefan seat

ESPNF1 Staff
February 18, 2010 « Mercedes must win to stay in F1 - Dieter Zetsche | »
Jacques Villeneuve has driven in NASCAR, Speedcar and at Le Mans since leaving F1 © Getty Images

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve could be one step closer to a return to F1, after being linked to a drive with Stefan GP.

Stefan GP still hasn't been granted an entry to the Formula One championship this season but will test its car next week with, according to Autosport, Villeneuve at the wheel. The Serbian outfit will run Toyota's 2010 chassis and engines, after the Japanese manufacturer made a surprise withdrawal from the sport last year and put its designs up for sale. If Villeneuve does test the car it will be his first time in a contemporary F1 car since he left BMW Sauber midway through 2006.

Speaking to ESPNF1 this week Villeneuve said: "There are still a few options I'm working on, and even if I'm not there for the start of the season, what I have to do is remain in shape and be present. If we look at last year, there was a rather impressive waltz [referring to the changes in drivers during the season], so you have to be ready to take over. I'm not ready to give up right away. Anyway, if we look at Michael, he's three years ahead of me so I've still got time."

The news comes just one day after Karun Chandhok was rumoured to have signed to drive for the team if it makes the grid. With Toyota-backed Kazuki Nakajima also expected to be a favourite for a race position, Chandhok may instead be in line for a test role. However, the Indian GP2 driver denied he has come to an agreement with Stefan GP.

"I am surprised to see the reports emerging, I haven't signed any contract with any team as of now," he told DNA India. "For now it is all speculation, but I wish it comes true. I have been speaking to teams since August 2009, and for now, I have kept my options open."

Stefan GP is unlikely to confirm its driver line-up either way until it starts testing at the Portimao circuit in the Algarve on February 25.