The Williams test drive

WITH Bruno Junqueira going off to race in the United States, the BMW Williams team has begun to look for a new test driver and with experienced Formula 1 men few and far between, it is not going to be an easy task. The trend at the moment is to use drivers who have been racing in F1 in recent years and McLaren has signed Alexander Wurz, Jordan has snapped up Ricardo Zonta, Ferrari is continuing to use Luca Badoer and Toyota has signed up Mika Salo.

This means that there are not many suitable drivers left for Williams with the most likely candidates being Marc Gene and Jos Verstappen. Johnny Herbert has already turned Williams down while other available men such as Enrique Bernoldi and Stephane Sarrazin do not seem to be exciting much interest. Mark Webber is expected to join Benetton although recent comments made by team boss Flavio Briatore that Jarno Trulli will be moving to the team in 2002 are likely to have given the Australian second thoughts about the team. He may, however, already be under contract to Benetton.

Of the other men with recent F1 experience it is unlikely that Williams would be able to make a deal with former driver Alex Zanardi and Damon Hill would probably be too expensive and everyone else is at least two years out of date.

Williams is expected to sign up the most experienced driver it can get its hands on but may also sign up a youngster to help the development work. The man most likely to get this role is the new German Formula 3 Champion Giorgio Pantano.

The team is going to be doing a considerable amount of test driving next year with a new BMW engine, Michelin tires and a reduction in the amount of testing allowed which means that teams will want to use as many drivers as possible on days when running is allowed.

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