Autosport has learned that the 1997 F1 champion will be one of four drivers to take the controls of the Gibson-engined Vanwall Vandervell LMH during a three-day test at Spain’s track, which begins on Wednesday.
Villeneuve, 51, has been known to be sharing the FIA’s potential future. World Endurance Championship contender, Tom Dillmann and Esteban Gurrieri, who have performed the majority the testing with the car so this year, and JoaoPaulo de Oliveira.
Guerrieri and Dillmann are the two nominated drivers for the Vanwall LMH, developed by German ByKolles. De Oliveira won the Formula Nippon title in 2010. He also has ties to the team from his participation in German Formula 3 back in 2002.
No confirmation was forthcoming from the team on Villeneuve’s participation in the test.
Villeneuve was part the Peugeot line-up with the 908 HDi turbodiesel LMP1 at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007 and ’08, finishing runner-up in the second of those years with Marc Gene and Nicolas Minassian.
He He stated that he wanted to join Peugeot in order to add Le Mans victory to both his F1 title (and 1995 Indy 500 win) and it is believed that he still harbors aspirations for the French classic.
Carl Bingham/Photo Motorsport Images
Villeneuve described it as the Triple Crown of Motorsport. It usually includes the Monaco Grand Prix, rather than the F1 World Championship.
Villeneuve’s most recent experience in a sportscar was in 2019, when he participated in three endurance rounds in the Italian GT Championship in a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo.
The Daytona outing followed his participation in the Whelen Euro Series sanctioned by NASCAR: he undertook a full campaign in 2019 and part seasons in 2020 and ’21.
The Vanwall’s non-hybrid Vanwall has passed the Barcelona test, which was in operation since March.
After a quick shakedown at Zweibrucken, it moved on to Most in Czech Republic for its first race circuit test.
ByKolles is expected to file at least one entry for next year’s WEC under the Vanwall Racing banner.
Its attempt to join the series this year from round two at Spa was thwarted when its entry was turned down by series promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA.
Series boss Frederic Lequien refused to give specific reasons for the rejection of the Vanwall, but it is understood that concerns over ByKolles’s right to use the name of the name of the former F1 team that won the 1958 constructors’ title and its modest record in LMP1 with its CLM P1/01 contender were among them.
- Vanwall LMH reliability surprised ByKolles in the latest test
- ByKolles passes “very well” the first test of Vanwall Hypercar
- Vanwall Le Mans Hypercar by ByKolles rolled out
LMH rules also stipulate that an entrant must show it has an association to an existing automobile brand.
Vanwall’s relaunched marque includes a hybrid super-sportscar with 1000 horsepower and an extreme track-day vehicle. However, it is understood that other vehicles are also in the works.