Wilson Earns Jaguar Boss's Praise

Britain's Justin Wilson had Jaguar bosses purring after he put Ferrari and Formula One leader Michael Schumacher in the shade on his debut for the team.

Wilson Earns Jaguar Boss's Praise

Britain's Justin Wilson had Jaguar bosses purring after he put Ferrari and Formula One leader Michael Schumacher in the shade on his debut for the team.

"Excellent. What else can you say?" said Jaguar team principal Tony Purnell after the rookie clocked the seventh best time on an unfamiliar circuit in first qualifying for the German Grand Prix.

"I always feel that a good driver goes quick, quickly. "You look at all the greats and, right back in their past, there will be somebody who says 'Well, we put him in a Formula One car for the first time and - wallop - he was on the pace.'

"Justin has had a bit of experience but I find it very reassuring that - wallop - he's on the pace."

The Briton, signed from Minardi only last week as a replacement for struggling Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, has less than a handful of races to stake his claim for a place with the Ford-owned team next year.

He wasted no time at Hockenheim, stepping confidently into the car and blasting round in 1:15.373 after learning the circuit in morning testing.

Schumacher was ninth in 1:15.456 with Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello eighth in 1:15.399 on a sweltering day that favoured drivers - like Wilson - on Michelin tyres.

Real Benchmark

Australian Mark Webber, Wilson's real benchmark as his teammate, was fourth but just three-tenths quicker than the 25-year-old Briton.

"What was particularly good about it (Wilson's lap) was that Mark's was fantastic really," said Purnell. "We were thinking, well, it doesn't get better than that and then Justin...started to fly. I watched it with Mark and we thought 'Wow. Score.'"

Wilson remained unflappable as ever.

"My aim for first qualifying was to be within a second of Mark," he said. "I know how quick he can be and, when I saw his lap time, it was great for the team but I was also under a lot of pressure because I knew I wanted to be close to him.

"I was thinking about that in the car before I went out to do the qualifying and, when I got to the end of the lap, I knew it had hooked up quite well," he said. "I knew it was a reasonable time but I was pleasantly surprised when I crossed the line and saw the lap time."

His former boss, Minardi's Paul Stoddart, was quick to congratulate and caution a driver who was once told he was too tall to consider a career in Formula One.

"He has justified all the faith everyone put in him," said the Australian, who gave both Wilson and Webber their Formula One debuts. "I hope everyone gives him a bit of a chance and doesn't expect this all of the time. He is going to be a big benefit to that team, but give him a couple of races.

"He and Mark are going to be a seriously powerful driver combination, but it needs a couple of races."

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