In his debut season, Villeneuve challenged Hill for the title, winning four races and taking the fight to the final round in Japan, where the Canadian retired and Hill won the title.
Villeneuve, however, did win the following year's title, this time challenging Michael Schumacher and once again taking it to the final round in Jerez.
Renault had pulled out of Formula One for 1998 and Villeneuve's Williams team had to fare with less competitive Mecachrome engines.
Villeneuve moved to the newly formed British American Racing team in 1999 and stayed there for the next four seasons but, following poor results he was replaced by former British Formula Three Champion Takuma Sato.
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The Canadian was replaced by Robert Kubica and soon BMW and Villeneuve parted company.
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