Irvine backs Wilson for Jaguar stardom

Former Jaguar Racing driver Eddie Irvine has backed the team's decision to drop Antonio Pizzonia and replace the Brazilian with rising British F1 star Justin Wilson. The Ulsterman who quit the sport at the end of last year, said in his Sun newspaper column that Pizzonia "should never have been signed by Jaguar."

Irvine backs Wilson for Jaguar stardom

Irvine did however warn against high expectations in this weekend's German Grand Prix and believes it would be unrealistic to expect too much of Wilson in his first grand prix driving for a manufacturer-owned team.

"He has to be given time," said Irvine. "No-one should expect him to step straight into the cockpit at Hockenheim next week and blow Mark Webber into the weeds. If he does he will be a megastar but I cannot see it happening because he needs time in the car and with the working of a much bigger team.

"Webber has 11 races under his belt. He knows the car and engineers so it would be unrealistic to expect Wilson to come straight in and blitz him. All Wilson needs to do is sit on Webber's tail for the remaining races, hopefully pick up a few points and he will be set for next season. If he then spends 2004 kicking Webber's backside - which I feel he is capable of - he will be destined for greater things."

Irvine said in his column that Pizzonia, who was offered an opportunity to stay on at Jaguar as test and reserve driver, may have blown his chances in F1: "He made a fool of himself and paid the price.

"He has even dismissed the chance of staying in the sport by refusing to accept the role of Jaguar's reserve driver. A very big mistake. No doubt Pizzonia will be telling everyone how he was turned over and was never given a fighting chance, but he was handed a golden opportunity - and he blew it."

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