Jaguar Hope to Find New Role for Wilson

Jaguar say they want to keep Justin Wilson in their "family" after discarding the British driver for Austrian novice Christian Klien.

Jaguar Hope to Find New Role for Wilson

Jaguar say they want to keep Justin Wilson in their "family" after discarding the British driver for Austrian novice Christian Klien.

But new regulations for 2004, ironically aimed at encouraging young talent, could halt his Formula One career in its tracks.

"Our ideal scenario would be to run a third car at the races (in Friday practice) and ideally Justin would be that guy," managing director David Pitchforth told Reuters on Tuesday after the Ford-owned team confirmed Klien for 2004.

"But the rules do not allow that to happen at the moment and we have to work within that framework. We'd like to keep him as part of the family and we have lots of irons in the fire to try to do that."

New rules allow the bottom six ranked teams to run three cars in Friday practice at race weekends but only those who have not competed in more than six Grands Prix in the previous two Championships are eligible for the role.

The Friday driver would also be the team's official reserve. Wilson, 25, is ineligible after a full debut season with Minardi and Jaguar.

Only two teams, Jordan and Minardi, still have vacancies for race drivers and they are likely to be looking for candidates with substantial backing. Wilson, who sold shares in himself to raise the money to secure his debut drive this year, lacks the financial clout of his rivals, although Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has said he would welcome him back.

Teams could change the testing rule at a meeting of the governing body's World Motorsport Council in Paris next week but that will require an unlikely show of unanimity.

Wilson's options might include testing for Ford-owned Jaguar away from race weekends but that is likely to be both limited and unrewarding.

"I'd have to show Justin there was a real role," said Pitchforth. "I'm not going to offer him something that's not real. If there was something real it would be an option."

Klien, 20, first stepped into a Formula One car last week but made an instant impression with lap times comparable to those of established Australian driver Mark Webber in an unfamiliar car.

"He has the same credentials as (McLaren's) Kimi (Raikkonen) or (BAR's) Jenson (Button)," said Pitchforth.

"He did an excellent job at the Valencia test. He was very mature, gave good feedback and never put a foot wrong. We made this appointment on talent and what we think is his potential."

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