Honda website
Honda website

SEPTEMBER 22, 2005

A curved ball at Williams

There is much talk at the moment of Nico Rosberg being the favourite for the second seat at Williams next now that Jenson Button has bought his way out of his contract and Nick Heidfeld has been released to join BMW. However there are no foregone conclusions in this matter and we hear that one man who might be in the frame is Britain's Dan Wheldon who, at 27, has won the Indianapolis 500 and will soon win the Indy Racing League title as well. Wheldon has achieved pretty much all he can achieve in America, finishing runner-up to Tony Kanaan last year and on the verge of this year's title. He is the first Englishman to the win the Indy 500 since Graham Hill in 1966 and the first to win both the 500 and the title. The last man to do that was Jacques Villeneuve 10 years ago.

There were stories back in June that Wheldon would get a chance to drive a Williams this year if the team had the capacity to give him a run, not least because his manager Julian Jakobi is a well-known F1 mover and shaker.

Button, Wheldon and Anthony Davidson were all rivals in karting and were closely-matched. Button and Davidson stayed in Europe but Wheldon went to the United States in 1999 because he could not find the money to race in the UK. He won the US Formula Ford 2000 at his first attempt and in 2000 became Toyota Atlantic rookie of the year at his first attempt. In 2001 he was Indy Lights rookie of the year and in 2002 he made his debut in IRL, being named rookie of the year in 2003. Although he has raced primarily on ovals in recent years he grew up as a road racer and so should be able to handle the switch to F1 without too much trouble.

Whether the test will actually happen and whether it leads to a deal is another matter but we believe that the team will want to give Wheldon a run to see how he goes.