Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve and youngster Jenson Button may be frozen out of next month’s opening grand prix of the new Formula One season in Australia if safety fears over their cars prove to be well-founded.
British driver Button and Canada’s Jacques Villeneuve are believed to be two of the drivers most likely to be among eight Formula One hopefuls whose cars have failed stringent tests.
Four construction teams are thought to be affected, and Button’s Benetton outfit and Villeneuve’s BAR are in the frame.
Max Mosley, president of Formula One’s governing body FIA, has refused to confirm the names of the teams involved.
But he did say: "There have been a lot of problems for some teams passing the crash test.
"I believe the teams involved will have it sorted in time.
"But if they don’t they can’t expect to take part in Melbourne."