Stoddart Not Ruling Out Wilson Return

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said on Wednesday that he would be "proud" to welcome Justin Wilson back to his team - and refused to rule out the possibility of the Briton making a return next year.

Stoddart Not Ruling Out Wilson Return

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said on Wednesday that he would be "proud" to welcome Justin Wilson back to his team - and refused to rule out the possibility of the Briton making a return next year.

Wilson, who made his Grand Prix debut with Minardi before moving to Jaguar last year, will be replaced by Austrian youngster Christian Klien next season and is now looking to a racing role with Minardi.

The Anglo-Italian team admit they will sign their drivers on a commercial basis but Stoddart promised: "I am not saying anything will happen but don't write off Justin Wilson returning to Minardi. I would be proud to have Justin back.

"Cosworth is our engine supplier and we have a fantastic arrangement with them and I think Jaguar would do anything in their power to see that he is alright because they do rate him. There has to be commercial considerations in any driver deal for Minardi and it is a team owners market but I believe Justin has done enough to stay in Formula One."

Cosworth and Jaguar are both owned by Ford and it is understood that Minardi have already begun talks over taking Wilson back as part of a deal to reduce their engine costs. Jaguar are keen to keep the Briton on their books in case Australian team leader Mark Webber leaves for Williams-BMW in 2005, and a deal with Minardi would help Wilson's racing experience continue to grow.

Wilson struggled to shine alongside Webber during his five races with the team, but Stoddart believes the Briton remains one of the hottest properties on the Grand Prix grid.

"Klien was very impressive and these things happen," said Stoddart. "But at the end of the day I think everyone knows I thought the Webber and Wilson combination was very powerful."

Wilson set up a share scheme at the start of this year to raise the money he needed to buy his drive with Minardi but moved to Jaguar as part of a deal on payment for engines before the German Grand Prix in August.

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