After leaving F1 in a huff just before the final race at Japan this year, 1997 World Champion and perennial angry young man Jacques Villeneuve has decided to speak out.

After leaving F1 in a huff just before the final race at Japan this year, 1997 World Champion and perennial angry young man Jacques Villeneuve has decided to speak out.

Shortly after learning, on the eve of the Japanese Grand Prix, that BAR would not be renewing his contract for 2004, he abruptly left Formula One.

The Canadian, who chose not to make any comments about the situation at the time, has since broken his silence.

"Last year, someone in the paddock was trying to destroy everything I achieved, putting it about that I was a pain to work with," said Villeneuve. "Everyone believed it. Even (F1 ringmaster) Bernie Ecclestone believed it because he was telling me I had to change my attitude. There was nothing I could do about it. It was out of my hands."

Though Jacques did not mention who he was referring to, it be safe to assume that he was taking a jibe at BAR boss David Richards since, as can be expected, Villeneuve was less than impressed with the way in which the negotiations with BAR went.

"I got a rubbish offer from BAR," said Jacques. "It was insulting because there was no money involved. We went back with a counter offer but heard nothing."

Villeneuve also said he believed that the entire BAR team knew that he would be replaced by Sato in 2004. "Everyone knew that Takuma would be in the car next year and if they had told me in May that I wouldn't be driving for them I would have respected it - but they didn't," explained Villeneuve. "I didn't race in Japan because why should I risk my life for someone like that?"

The former world champion also used the opportunity to explain his less-than-friendly behaviour towards BAR team-mate, Jenson Button, earlier in the year.

"I was suspicious before last season because Jenson was being hyped beyond what he had achieved as a driver," Villeneuve said. "He was being hailed as a future world champion as soon as he joined the team. I thought they should have had a little bit of respect for me, because I had worked my backside off for them for four years."

"I didn't see him stressed too much, but it was not very hard for him because he was getting results for the team while my car was breaking down all the time," added the Canadian. "Jenson did a great job for BAR last year, and I have got a lot more respect for him."

As far as his future is concerned, Villeneuve is not very optimistic about a possible return in Formula One. "Unless I can get a top car I am not sure I would consider it," he said. "If there are no opportunities for 2004 then why should there be any in 2005?"

When Juan Pablo Montoya leaves Williams-BMW at the end of 2004, it would free up a spot in a top team, but the disheartened Jacques doesn't believe that it would be an opportunity for him to return to F1.

"I don't think Williams will want me back," Villeneuve said.

Original article from Car