When the FIA finally issued its 2010 entry list last night it seemed logical to get hold of one of the men most affected by the outcome.
Jacques Villeneuve had not signed a contract with Stefan GP, but he was poised to do so, having sat in the car in Cologne on Monday.
He was enjoying a late dinner with friends in Switzerland when I rang, and he had not heard the latest. As I explained it all to him I felt a little bit guilty that I had spoiled his evening, and left him to finish his meal.
Later, after he had time to digest the news and his pasta, he called back.
“Of course it’s disappointing,” he told me. “The car and team looked very promising, but we always knew there was a risk without having the entry, and it was running late. So it’s not a full surprise, but it’s still disappointing.
“There was a lot of potential with the car. It was built and it was a full blown project. It wasn’t something started from scratch, and it was going to be competitive. It’s a shame because it would have been a new team which could have run properly, but that’s the way it is.”
Villeneuve had first indicated his desire to come back as long ago as Monaco in May, so this has been something of a long term project. He’s kept himself fit, working with his longtime physio Erwin Gollner in Austria as recently as last weekend.
“It’s been a long process, so there’s no point to can it now. Who knows, there might be some driver changes during the year, as the teams are not all fully secure. And there’s still 2011.”
There remains a chance that Stefan GP will be granted an entry for next year, once the FIA has concluded its bid process. Jacques hasn’t ruled out being part of the package that the team presents: “It’s too early to say anything, but potentially.”
Meanwhile he’s been looking at prospects in the NASCAR world: “There are a few things I’ve put on hold, so I’ll just get working on it.”
Inevitably many people have been sceptical about Villeneuve’s comeback plans, but it would have done no harm to have another World Champion on the grid, in what was potentially a sensible car. There’s no doubt that he was fully motivated, and in a very different frame of mind to when he left BMW Sauber in 2006, having made a lot of changes in his life since then.
He turns 40 next year, but anyone questioning that should note that he is still a couple of months younger than Pedro de la Rosa – and of course Michael Schumacher has moved the goalposts in terms of our perception of an F1 driver’s age. Will JV get another chance?