Cutting down to size 05 Mar 2003
Money isn't the only thing that kept Justin Wilson on the F1 shelf until Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart was persuaded to give him a chance. At 6ft 2in he was simply considered too tall to be a racing driver, especially in F1 where most drivers have the build of jockeys.
"I don't know where it comes from," he admits of his height. "My Mum is only about five foot five and I'm taller than Dad."
One of his toughest moment came when, having successfully testing a 2001 Minardi PS01 in preparation for a debut in Hungary last year, he found he was too tall to fit into the 2002 PS02. The drive went to fellow countryman Anthony Davidson.
Wilson admits that the situation got so bad that he even considered an operation to reduce the length of his legs. Few drivers have ever had to consider such a sacrifice for their sport.
"We thought about it," Wilson says, "but we quickly dismissed it. After all, you could go through all that pain and hassle and still not get a drive or not drive as well as before. It wasn't worth the risk."
Fortunately, Stoddart's 2003 PS03 is roomy enough to accommodate his lanky frame.