Wilson Could Return to Jaguar in 2005, Says Manager

Justin Wilson is lining up a return to Jaguar Racing in 2005 after the team confirmed on Tuesday that he will be replaced by Austrian youngster Christian Klien next year.

Wilson Could Return to Jaguar in 2005, Says Manager

Justin Wilson is lining up a return to Jaguar Racing in 2005 after the team confirmed on Tuesday that he will be replaced by Austrian youngster Christian Klien next year.

Briton Wilson, who competed in five races for the team this season, could be forced to sit out the 2004 season - but his manager Jonathan Palmer believes he can return to the team in 2005.

"Jaguar are keen to help Justin continue his career and there is the possibility for him to come back in 2005," said Palmer. "They certainly recognise there may be an opening then and they are keen to help Justin's career in the meantime."

Jaguar's Australian team leader Mark Webber is widely tipped to join Williams-BMW as a replacement for McLaren-Mercedes-bound Juan Pablo Montoya at the end of next season and Palmer believes Wilson can take his place. The Ford-owned team's decision to go for Klien was linked to the significant Red Bull sponsorship he was able to offer them as well as the impressive pace he showed in a test at Valencia last week.

But Wilson was actually the fastest of the Jaguar drivers at the Spanish track and Palmer was disappointed that finances had a hand in preventing Wilson from an extension to his brief race deal.

"It is extremely disappointing, particularly after Justin did a superb job in Valencia - but if the team needs the extra funding there is nothing we can do," said Palmer. "There are clearly some commercial pressures on Jaguar but it is a shame that they are a British team and they do not have a British driver, especially when they had one with such impressive credentials."

Wilson is now left with the option of taking an interim testing role at Jaguar or making a return to his old team Minardi for a season while he waits on the future of Webber. It is understood that Jaguar have asked for clarification on the new regulation that allows third cars to be run in Friday practice at each Grand Prix because at the moment Wilson would not be allowed to take part.

Only drivers who have raced in less than six Grands Prix in the last two years are currently allowed to drive the third car and unless the rule can be changed it could severely restrict Wilson's chances of securing the test role.

"He could have been involved in the Friday tests but, rather unfairly, even though he is still classified as a young driver someone of Justin's experience is now barred from those tests," said Palmer. "It is a shame that a regulation like that looks like it will stop Justin but we are hoping the teams will reconsider the issue and decide the rule is not in the best interests of the sport.

"A race seat with Minardi is certainly something with substantial appeal. We have not talked to Jordan so the options are either as a third driver or a race driver with Minardi."

Wilson raised the funding to pay for his Grand Prix debut with Minardi through a revolutionary share scheme and Palmer admitted that Jaguar's decision to terminate the Briton's contract will hit investors in the pocket. Fans were given the chance to buy shares in Justin Wilson Plc to help him secure a place in Formula One and were promised a minimum doubling of their investment within five years.

But Palmer admitted: "The prospects of an early return in the share scheme are dented by this news but I still have every confidence that the shareholders will get a good return on their investment. We need to position Justin with good earning potential and although we are still focussed on Formula One if there is nothing available next year we will look at other options."

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