JANUARY 31, 2005
Heidfeld gets the Williams!
Williams has named Nick Heidfeld as its second driver alongside Mark Webber in 2005. The news was announced this morning in Valencia in Spain. It is not clear when the decision was made by Williams partners Frank Williams and Patrick Head (if indeed it was made before this morning) but it remained a secret to everyone, even the drivers, until the last possible moment. Williams did the same back in 2000 when it chose between Jenson Button and Bruno Junqueira and the theatrical nature of the announcement resulted in massive publicity, which seems to have been the goal.
The choice of Heidfeld is interesting in that the German started the winter as the outsider for the job although in recent weeks he has been backed heavily by BMW. The decision means that Antonio Pizzonia will probably not stay with the team and will now either look for a job at Jordan or go to America and try to build himself a career over there. The news will also not go down well in Brazil where Petrobras was very keen to have a Brazilian in the car. The Brazilian national oil company is a team sponsor.
If Pizzonia does depart this could create a problem for Williams if either Webber or Heidfeld is forced to miss a race as there is no obvious candidate to be the team's replacement driver. However, in the event of such a mishap, there will no doubt be plenty of candidates for a job at Williams, even though it might be wiser for the team to have another driver on staff who knows the car well. As Renault proved last year, taking on a driver who does not know the car is a bad idea. Jacques Villeneuve was not able to score any results when he took over from Jarno Trulli at the end the season.
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