Analysis: Heidfeld, Pizzonia Wait to Hear Fate

Mark Webber will find out on Monday whether his Williams teammate is to be Antonio Pizzonia or Nick Heidfeld.

Analysis: Heidfeld, Pizzonia Wait to Hear Fate

Mark Webber will find out on Monday whether his Williams teammate is to be Antonio Pizzonia or Nick Heidfeld.

The former champions, winners of more Formula One constructors' titles than any team other than Ferrari, will reveal all at the launch of their 2005 car in the Spanish city of Valencia.

Only team boss Frank Williams, co-owner Patrick Head, technical director Sam Michael and BMW motorsport head Mario Theissen will know before then and even they will meet on Monday for a final decision.

Press releases are being prepared to cover either eventuality, with the drivers waiting in the wings on tenterhooks for the announcement once the launch is underway. There is little doubt, all things being equal, that Webber would rather Heidfeld filled what ranks as the most desirable vacancy in the sport.

The experienced German can also be assumed to be engine partner BMW's preferred option, though they and the team insist they will not be driven by nationality and sponsorship issues.

Pizzonia, 24, has been very quick in testing and has Petrobras pushing his case, but the Brazilian also has a history with Webber that suggests they would make uneasy partners.

They were teammates together at Jaguar in 2003, where the Australian was consistently faster until Pizzonia was dumped after 11 races without a point. The Brazilian later claimed, to Webber's disgust, that the team had favoured one driver over the other.

Button Precedent

Williams will take that past into consideration, along with many other factors after head-to-head tests over the last month.

"I think Mark might be a little uncomfortable but if Antonio is the quicker driver we have to do what's best for our team," Frank Williams said this month. "It'll be a factor in our discussions and final judgement I guess."

Pizzonia was the clear favourite until Heidfeld came along, at BMW's instigation, and Williams are a difficult team to second guess. They make up their own minds and are not overly concerned about driver harmony.

Briton Jenson Button owes his career to them making just such a difficult decision in his favour five years ago. In January 2000, Brazilian Bruno Junqueira was the experienced test driver in pole position for the race seat until Button suddenly entered the equation.

Yet it was a delighted Button, barely 20-years-old, who was informed minutes before the launch in Barcelona that he had got the nod.

Williams revealed later that on the Sunday night the decision had tipped towards Junqueira only for he and technical director Patrick Head to decide over breakfast the next day that Button was their man.

Pizzonia and Heidfeld face the most nervous wait of their careers this weekend, with one handed a real chance of winning races and the other facing a year as test driver.

"I did all I could and now it is just a question of waiting," said Heidfeld this week.

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