JANUARY 3, 2006
Williams will pay Wurz
There is a good sign for all Formula 1 fans out there with the news that Williams has decided not to go down the route of taking on a test driver with money and will be paying Alexander Wurz in 2006.
The team had been discussing doing deals with Narain Karthikeyan and Nicolas Kiesa if they could bring substantial sponsorship to the team but decided in the end that it would send out all the wrong messages and with Wurz available it seemed like a good move.
Karthikeyan has a decent amount of backing from India's Tata Motors but at the moment has nowhere to spend it. Having said that it is highly unlikely that the Indian will end up with nothing as there is bound to be a team which wants a little extra cash. On top of that, Formula One company boss Bernie Ecclestone is unlikely to want to see Narain walk away as he is the key to the vast Indian TV market.
We hear, incidentally, that Ryan Briscoe also popped up in the negotiations at Williams. The Australian is a very experienced F1 test driver having cut his teeth with Toyota.
The Japanese firm is expected to be Williams's engine supplier next season and Briscoe could well be in the menu for Williams in 2007. For the time being, however, Ryan is still looking for a job in America. He recently tested for the PKV Racing Champ Car team at Sebring but also made a flying visit to Spain to help out Toyota when Olivier Panis was unable to go testing.
PKV has yet to decide what to do about drivers in 2006 with neither Jimmy Vasser nor Cristiano da Matta confirmed. PKV has tested Ryan Dalziel, Giorgio Pantano, Briscoe and Katherine Legge in recent weeks and the fact that Briscoe popped up in the Williams equation suggests that PKV may have made a decision.
Our feeling is that PKV team boss Kevin Kalkhoven may ultimately conclude that Legge is the best investment as she is likely to bring to Champ Car the kind of coverage enjoyed last year by the Indy Racing League after Danica Patrick's impressive showing at Indianapolis.
It could be that the war between Champ Car and IRL will be fought out by the female stars in 2006.
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