Former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve has decided to end his racing involvement with the Formula E series with immediate effect.
The Venturi Formula E team confirmed the decision on Friday with a press release announcing that Villenueve's place in the team will be taken over by British driver Mike Conway, a former GP2 and IndyCar Series regular who has recently been racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Toyota Racing alongside Stephane Sarrazin.
No details were given as to why Villeneuve has decided to leave the Venturi team, which is co-owned by Gildo Pallanca Pastor and Hollywood actor Leonardo di Caprio. The official statement from the team simply said that "the team and the driver have chosen by mutual agreement to end their collaboration initiated early" after a disappointing start to the 2015-16 season.
In Villeneuve's first race in China, a series of technical issues meant that race day was little moe than an extended test session and he was classified in 14th place after retiring following a collision.
The second event at Malaysia confirmed that the Venturi powertrain package wasn't performing up to the same standard of its rivals, and in the most recent round in Uruguay a crash in qualifying left Villeneuve's car too badly damaged to take to the the grid for the start of the race.
It seems that since that event in Punta del Este, relations between Villeneuve and the Venturi team have deteriorated quickly. A report from the BBC suggests that the final break between the two parties followed a "disagreement over the future direction of the team."
At 44 years of age, Villeneuve had been the first former Formula One champion to take part in the FIA's all-electric championship.
Taking over from the Canadian, Mike Conway will make his debut in the series at the next round of the second season of Formula E - the first event of 2016, which will be held in Buenos Aires in Argentina on the Puerto Madero Street Circuit on February 6.
Conway had previously planned to participate in the inaugural season with Dragon Racing, but later parted company with the team shortly before the first race. The 32-year-old has since been involved with Formula E on the media side as a commentator for British TV audience, sitting in for regular pundit Dario Franchitti when the Scot was in Indianapolis for the Indy 500.