Clear tried to get Jacques to race

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Jacques Villeneuve's race engineer and close friend Jock Clear tried to convince the axed ex-champion to see out his career at Suzuka this weekend. The world champion of 1997 let his team know he is not in the mood to end his career in Suzuka, and that he won't race in the season finale. He therefore phoned his manager Craig Pollock from Tokyo on Thursday.

'Jock worked very hard to try to persuade him to race this weekend,' reported David Richards, the man who decided that Jacques wouldn't race for BAR in '04.

Richards said he asked Clear to phone Villeneuve in a last-ditch effort to get him to see out a five-year stint at the Brackley-based outfit.

'But when a driver really doesn't want to race,' said DR, 'you can't ask him to get in a car and do 200mph if he is not heart and soul committed to it.'

A BAR spokeswoman said Villeneuve, world champion of 1997, had 'several options' for the future even if Jaguar's looks like the only worthwhile race-seat in F1.