Jaguar Hope to Settle Line-Up by December

Briton Justin Wilson may have to wait until December to know whether his Formula One future is with Jaguar.

Briton Justin Wilson may have to wait until December to know whether his Formula One future is with Jaguar.

Wilson is hoping to stay at the Ford-owned team, who have yet to decide on a partner for Australian Mark Webber next year, after five races for them in 2003.

"I would like to have it made by the beginning of December so our winter testing can be with the two race guys," said team boss Tony Purnell when asked about the decision deadline after the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix.

The Jaguar drive is the most alluring of the few that remain on offer in Formula One, with the top teams having already confirmed their line-ups. Webber has scored all but one of Jaguar's 18 points this year but has not been pushed by either of the drivers who partnered him.

Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia was replaced after 11 races by Wilson, who scored one point.

There is a list of strong candidates vying for the job, including both outgoing Sauber drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld. McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz has also figured in paddock speculation.

"I think there is still a market for an experienced driver, but we'll see," said Frentzen at the weekend. "It would be interesting for me to drive for Jaguar next year for sure. But at this stage I can't tell you a lot about it."

Minardi's Dutchman Jos Verstappen has expressed an interest and Canada's former champion Jacques Villeneuve is also available after being dropped by BAR. Purnell said some of the candidates might be tested before a decision was made.

"There's so much happening at the moment with the sponsors. The next two months is where the sponsors make a decision whether to go with us or not and to me that's the important one," he added.

"The drivers are a bit secondary compared to that."

Purnell said all the drivers in contact with Jaguar had financial backing.

"There's not a driver that we are talking to that hasn't got a sponsor in tow. I think it's become a non-issue more and more because they are all equal."

He also made clear that Wilson still had a chance: "He can come away from this weekend feeling pretty pleased with himself. He did a good job."

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