JANUARY 28, 2005
Williams makes its choice
In the next 48 hours Williams will decide who will drive alongside Mark Webber in 2005. There are only two candidates: Antonio Pizzonia and Nick Heidfeld. And no-one has any idea who is going to get the drive.
BMW Motorsport boss Mario Theissen stayed on in England after the manufacturers meeting on Wednesday to discuss drivers with the Williams team but there is no suggestion that a decison was made.The laps times in testing suggest that Heidfeld has done well but these do not prove much because they are based on unknown factors such as fuel loads, set-ups and tyre wear. The lap times do not take into account the all-importaant question of who is quicker over longer distances, who is better at overtaking and the other advantages that the two bring to the team. BMW is keen on Heidfeld and Williams wants to stay sweet with the German car manufacturer but at the same time Pizzonia's presence is good for all the sponsors because it gives them profile in Latin America and Petrobras s particularly keen on seeing Pizzonia in the team. Commercial matters are nonetheless secondary when Williams decides on a driver and the other element which is probably going to be part of the equation is that Mark Webebr made it clear some months ago that he is not particularly keen on Pizzonia. Williams is not going to let a driver decide on the other driver but, at the same time, the team knows that unity is a good thing although it must be said the two men have worked together well.
Pizzonia still has a question makr over his racing ability if only because he has only done three races in the last year and his adventures at Jaguar Racing in 2003 are still lurking in the background. Heidfeld has a long history of racing and has done well in the machinery he has had.
Heidfeld's supporters have been very active in recent weeks getting F1 names to push Nick's case while Pizzonia's policy has been to let actions speak louder than words.
One other question which may be part off the equation is who would be the team's reserve driver if Pizzonia was not chosen and decided not to stay and go to America instead. There is no obvious candidate with experience who is on the market. However when such things occur much can change and so the what-if factor will not be uppermost in the minds of the Williams team.
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