F1 2002 Championship

The 2002 season proved to be miserable both for Villeneuve and the team. It begun with the replacement of Graig Pollock as Team Principal by David Richards, owner of Prodrive Corp., just before the presentation of BA004. It was a surprise for the whole F1 world as Graig Pollock was the godfather and architect of the B.A.R. concept since its foundation.
While Villeneuve stood alongside David Richards, amid the new 004, he obviously looked ill and faded. His words were reflected to his visage as he appeared being intensely furious and aghast at the same time. "If I could physically walk out, I would. I am too shocked to react. I am utterly shocked."
Once the shock had settled at the base of an annoying spine at Villeneuve's shoulder, he laid down his emotions and reflected "Craig was definitely a big part of my involvement in this team, and he was a big part of my decision when I re-signed last year. What's going to happen now ultimately depends on how the car is, how the team works or how happy or unhappy the team becomes during the season."

Since his arrival in BAR, David Richards was focused on providing his own Prodrive-like flavor to the team by re-orienting team's "scope" and removing its initial "unsuccessful" elements. Thus, Richards ousted Malcolm Oastler as Technical Director in favor of Geof Willis and 50 more members of BAR's engineering staff. It was obvious that the team wasn't any more Villeneuve-centric as it was established by BAR's foundation. Richards demanded more teamwork over individuality by BAR's personnel and he kept saying that "Individuals have to realise their responsibilities to the team and to the people around them. They cannot just be individuals. There are some people with extraordinary talent who are irreplaceable - but there are not many of them." It remains to be seen whether the French-Canadian is one of them.

As a consequence, Villeneuve started feeling less comfortable at the team.
"The fact that I hadn't been informed of the decision to fire Craig beforehand shows how the team truly value the driver. Obviously they are not interested in what I feel or think. That is not a good basis for trust."

Initial testing of the 004 proved more favorable than its predecessors, enabling the Canadian to at least enter the corners with speed and stability; but he made it clear that it was now or never for the post-Pollock BAR team.
"I just want to be able again to win a race. If the car cannot do these things, I will leave as soon as possible. Which is at the end of the year."

However, during the season, the car kept being off the pace and unreliable with many mechanical and engine failures. Villeneuve completed 7 retirements and he managed to score only 4 points.
It was a season to forget for the B.A.R. team as a whole.

At the "Grosser A1 Preis von Osterreich" in A1-Ring, Jacques Villeneuve faced many problems during the weekend. After testing the new radio communication system with his Senior Race Engineer Jock Clear, he had one more engine failure. During the radio communication its obvious at Villeneuve's voice his disappointment and frustration about car's performance.

"The car handles well", said Villeneuve, "its just too damn slow. We have a poor aerodynamic package, which is difficult to believe after four years."

In the race Villeneuve finished back in 10th position, a lap down from the race winner. That was Michael Schumacher who won after he controversially overtook his team mate Rubens Barrichelo few meters before the finish line, following orders given by Ferrari.

For one more season, Villeneuve failed to finish "Grand Prix Air Canada" in Montreal. Even though he qualified 9th, he was forced to retire early at lap 8, due to engine's oil pressure drop-off.

Villeneuve kept having mechanical problems the whole season long. At the Marlboro Magyar NagydĂ­j he retired early from the race in the 20th lap after his car transmission failed.

Eventhough Villeneuve had a crash in the unofficial free practice session of "Fuji Television Japanese Grand Prix" in Suzuka, he managed to qualify 9th for the race.

However, Villeneuve was once again obliged to retire at the 27th lap when his engine blew up while fighting with Giancarlo Fisichela's Jordan Honda, whose Honda engine was blown up too few laps later.

As the tale of BAR's "Tradition of Excellence" kept declining by the end of 2002 season, Villeneuve finally started making deep serious thoughts of leaving the team.
"I try to find reasons to stay positive, but its getting harder and harder.You've always got to work hard, bust a gut to make things work. But BAR have not done enough.
I will leave unless something drastic happens to our performance. This is the fourth season now and it is obvious that we are not going forwards - we're going backwards. I have to look around to see what possibilities there are."

Still all interesting vacant driving seats among the F1 grid were already taken. A great opportunity had arosen when Graig Pollock - leading a new financial consortium - got interested to Tom Walkinshaw's Arrows Grand Prix team who found himself into financial problems. However the buyout of the team failed as Walkinshaw's creditors blocked it. As an effect, Walkinshaw declared a fake "force majeur" for his team which didn't took part in the last 5 Grand Prix of 2002, breaking its Concorde Agreement. In addition, Villeneuve's position at BAR was highly under threat by the Japanese Honda's protege Takuma Sato.