Williams Still Torn between Pizzonia and Heidfeld

Antonio Pizzonia had a Formula One drive with Williams almost sewn up until Germany's Nick Heidfeld came into the picture, Frank Williams said on Thursday.

Williams Still Torn between Pizzonia and Heidfeld

Antonio Pizzonia had a Formula One drive with Williams almost sewn up until Germany's Nick Heidfeld came into the picture, Frank Williams said on Thursday.

At a news conference to announce a sponsorship deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland, Williams said that his team now needed more time to decide between their Brazilian test driver and his experienced rival.

Williams said both could expect contracts - "whoever loses will still be offered a test drive" - but a decision could be some weeks away.

"Nick's arrival into the testing scene was not foreseen," said the team boss. "We were very comfortable with having Antonio for 2005 but we felt it would be sensible to look at a rival in case there was someone better out there.

"If Nick had not been so obvious to us then Antonio would have been confirmed already, we think he's that good."

Pizzonia competed in four Grands Prix for Williams last season as a stand-in for injured Ralf Schumacher while Heidfeld made a strong impression for underfunded Jordan after losing his position at Sauber.

"We've decided that to be fair to the team and also to the two drivers to give them more time to demonstrate their abilities," said Williams. "I think we are talking two or three more tests. We'd like to have a decision certainly at the latest by the launch of the new car at the end of this month in Valencia."

The season starts in Australia on March 6.

Webber Dislike

Pizzonia was dropped by Jaguar after 11 races of his rookie season of 2003 after failing to score a point and being completely overshadowed by Mark Webber. Webber has since joined Williams and has little respect for the 24-year-old, who has claimed that the Australian got preferential treatment from Jaguar.

Although Williams say their choice will come down to which driver is the fastest, Heidfeld would be a more harmonious choice and he can also count on strong backing from engine partner BMW.

"I think Mark might be a little bit uncomfortable but if Antonio is the quicker driver we have to do what's best for the team," said Williams. "It'll be a factor in our discussions and final judgement I guess."

Pizzonia however has the support of Williams' Brazilian oil partner Petrobras.

Williams said BMW had convinced him and co-owner Patrick Head to give Heidfeld a chance: "BMW said 'You really ought to have a look at this guy, we think he might be good.'

"He is very quick so that is why we are putting ourselves through this testing programme.

"I hope we can have some sort of certainty about which driver is quicker. At the end of the day if they are both the same we'll have to toss a coin, I don't know. They're quite different drivers but very evenly matched in many respects. We'll see."

Williams finished last season in fourth place and have an all-new lineup this year after the departure of Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.

shares
comments
New twist to British GP saga

Previous article

New twist to British GP saga

Next article

Webber won't dictate choice

Webber won't dictate choice
Load comments
What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat Plus

What Verstappen is risking with his current stance on 2021 F1 world title defeat

OPINION: Max Verstappen is back in the lead of the 2021 Formula 1 drivers’ championship, with the season’s final flyaway events set to get underway in the USA this weekend. But a defensive stance he’s recently adopted could have a lasting impact for the Red Bull driver when it comes to his chances of defeating Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest Plus

The hidden Ferrari struggle that Sainz’s recent charge put to rest

Despite appearing to adjust to life as a Ferrari driver with relative ease, it was far from straightforward under the surface for Carlos Sainz Jr. But, having made breakthroughs in rather different routes at the Russian and Turkish races, he’s now targeting even greater feats for the rest of the Formula 1 season

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team Plus

The final throes of Brazil's fleetingly successful F1 team

Emerson Fittipaldi is better remembered for his Formula 1 world championships and Indianapolis 500 successes than for the spell running his eponymous F1 team. Despite a hugely talented roll call of staff, it was a period of internal strife, limited funding and few results - as remembered by Autosport's technical consultant

Formula 1
Oct 18, 2021
Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence Plus

Why McLaren's expanding agenda will benefit its F1 resurgence

In the 1960s and 1970s, McLaren juggled works entries in F1, sportscars and the Indy 500 while building cars for F3 and F2. Now it’s returning to its roots, expanding 
into IndyCars and Extreme E while continuing its F1 renaissance. There’s talk of Formula E and WEC entries too. But is this all too much, too soon? STUART CODLING talks to the man in charge

Formula 1
Oct 17, 2021
How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential Plus

How Tsunoda plans to achieve his F1 potential

Yuki Tsunoda arrived in grand prix racing amid a whirlwind of hype, which only increased after his first race impressed the biggest wigs in Formula 1. His road since has been rocky and crash-filled, and OLEG KARPOV asks why Red Bull maintains faith in a driver who admits he isn’t really that big a fan of F1?

Formula 1
Oct 15, 2021
The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages Plus

The danger of reading too much into F1's clickbait radio messages

OPINION: After Lewis Hamilton responded to reports labelling him 'furious' with Mercedes following his heated exchanges over team radio during the Russian Grand Prix, it provided a snapshot on how Formula 1 broadcasting radio snippets can both illuminate and misrepresent the true situation

Formula 1
Oct 14, 2021
Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers Plus

Why F1’s approach to pole winners with grid penalties undermines drivers

OPINION: Valtteri Bottas is credited with pole position for the 2021 Turkish Grand Prix, despite being beaten in qualifying. This is another example of Formula 1 and the FIA scoring an own goal by forgetting what makes motorsport magic, with the Istanbul race winner also a victim of this in the championship’s recent history

Formula 1
Oct 13, 2021
Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Turkish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

On a day that the number two Mercedes enjoyed a rare day in the sun, the Turkish Grand Prix produced several standout drives - not least from a driver who has hit a purple patch of late

Formula 1
Oct 11, 2021