Jaguar: No Pressure to Name Second Driver

Jaguar are in no hurry to name their second driver for 2004 despite Austrian Alexander Wurz pressing his claim to the most sought-after seat remaining in Formula One.

Jaguar: No Pressure to Name Second Driver

Jaguar are in no hurry to name their second driver for 2004 despite Austrian Alexander Wurz pressing his claim to the most sought-after seat remaining in Formula One.

"We are under no immediate pressure or rush to make a decision," said a team spokesman on Thursday. "We still have about four weeks left before our winter test programme kicks off.

"We would prefer to have our 2004 drivers in the cars over the winter period and there is an understandable desire on the part of various parties to have this decision taken sooner rather than later," he added.

"But it's purely a buyer's market right now. We have time which we are going to make maximum use of."

Australian Mark Webber is confirmed at the Ford-owned team but there is a long list of experienced candidates to partner him now that all the leading teams have announced their line-ups. Team boss Tony Purnell said at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix that he did not expect an announcement until the end of November.

Briton Justin Wilson raced in the last five Grands Prix of the season after replacing Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, but McLaren's tester Wurz is widely considered the favourite to get the nod.

"I'm in a position of luxury at the moment in that two teams are interested in me," he told Austria's APA news agency on Wednesday. "That's not the worst that can happen to one. I'm right at the top of the list at Jaguar and of course McLaren absolutely want me to stay after my test performance last year."

The speculation about Wurz was heightened after McLaren revealed that former champion Jacques Villeneuve had approached them about a test role in 2004.

Austria's Red Bull energy drink company is also talking to several teams, including Jaguar, about a sponsorship deal linked to young Austrian Formula Three driver Christian Klien. Autosport magazine reported on Thursday that Red Bull were pushing Klien for the Jaguar race drive but the team wanted him as a test and reserve driver.

According to the report, when asked whether the company would commit to Jaguar, Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko said: "It all depends. It will not be as a title sponsor. It is down to the driver - Klien."

Wurz came close to securing the Jaguar drive last season as a replacement for Pizzonia, only to lose out due to complications with his McLaren contract. The Austrian, a former Benetton driver, has been pushing to return to racing for some time.

If a driver other than Wilson were to secure the Jaguar drive, an announcement would be likely in the second or third week of November to allow time for seat fittings and changes to the car before the start of testing.

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