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FIA still to decide on 13th team spot – Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve is not confirming reports that the FIA intends to leave the 13th team spot vacant for the 2011 season.

The 1997 world champion, in collaboration with Italian racing team Durango, is in the running along with Spain’s Epsilon Euskadi for the last place on next year’s grid.

But according to reports this week, the governing body has decided to leave the position vacant because neither of the applications has a strong enough combination of engineering and financial resource.

It is believed the news could be announced after Wednesday’s meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, even though the decision was reportedly made a week ago.

But Villeneuve told the French language Canadian publication Rue Frontenac late on Tuesday that he is still hopeful.

“We have had no news – positive or negative – from the FIA,” said the 39-year-old.

“All I know is that we are proud of our bid and we followed the process instituted by the FIA.

“We have a budget in place for the next three years, and the design of the car is going very well.  Phase 1 is nearing completion.

“We have submitted our application and we only need the approval of the FIA for the next phase.”

Villeneuve said he can understand the FIA’s careful deliberations about allowing another new team to compete in formula one.

“The memory of the USF1 debacle is still fresh in their minds,” said the winner of 11 grands prix, who competed in F1 most recently in 2006 for BMW.

“They want to be really sure that the group with the 13th spot will be very solid, and that suits us because we are strong,” Villeneuve insisted.

“After our meeting, they wanted to do due diligence and that’s probably why the announcement is a bit late.

“We look forward to the news but we’re not panicking — far from it,” added the French Canadian.

He said Durango owner Ivone Pinton is not panicking either, despite the reports about the FIA deciding not to open F1’s door to any more teams for now.

“We have barely discussed it, except to say the media is a bit fast on the trigger!  It’s possible the FIA will say no but we have no indication to that effect.

“Their analytical work is ongoing — that’s all we know,” added Villeneuve.