DECEMBER 18, 2002
Who is Justin Wilson?
Sheffield is a town in Yorkshire which was once famous for its steel. Cutlery manufactured in Sheffield was famous throughout the world. In motor racing circles Sheffield is best-known as the home of Justin Wilson, the 6ft3in 24-year-old who has just been signed by Minardi.
Wilson has been racing since 1988 when, at the age of nine, he began taking part in karting events. He graduated to national Formula A when he was 15 and at 16 moved into cars, racing in the Formula Vauxhall Junior series. He won his first race and was third in the series and was picked as one of the six finalists for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Driver of the Year Award. He had made his mark and in 1996 Wilson was taken on by Paul Stewart Racing to race in the British Formula Vauxhall Championship. He won one race and was second five times but his career ran into a difficult phase in 1997 and Wilson was faced with a problem of finance in 1998. He elected to take part in the inaugural Formula Palmer Audi Championship and after winning six victories he won the title. The prize for this success was a fully-funded season in International Formula 3000 Championship with Team Astromega. The 1999 season proved to be a learning year and he made his mark by scoring points on his debut but for the rest of the year there was frustration and in 2000 Wilson moved to Nordic Racing and with experience of the cars and the circuits was able to show off his talents. He finished fifth in the championship with two podium finishes. It was agreed that he would stay with the team in 2001 for a championship challenge and at the start of the year Wilson started winning with a victory at Interlagos. This was followed by further victories and at Spa in September he became the first British driver to win the F3000 title. It was a dominant display and as a result he was asked to test for the Jordan F1 team and later for Minardi.
But there were no drives available in Formula 1 and so Wilson decided to take a risk and went to compete in the Telefonica World Series by Nissan which he drove for the Racing Engineering team. When Minardi decided to give Alex Yoong a rest in the midseason Wilson would have got the drive over Anthony Davidson if he had been able to fit into the Minardi chassis. The team began to make plans to build a slightly bigger chassis for 2003 and Wilson set about looking for money, aided in his task by former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer,w ho has been managing Justin since Formula Palmer Audi days.
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