Wilson to Jaguar, Kiesa to Minardi 21 Jul 2003
British driver Justin Wilson has joined the Jaguar Racing team with immediate effect, it was announced on Monday. Wilson, who has driven for Minardi so far this year, will replace Antonio Pizzonia for the remainder of the 2003 season, starting with next month's German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.
Wilson will be replaced at Minardi by Danish Formula 3000 driver Nicolas Kiesa, while Pizzonia has been offered a reserve and test driver role at Jaguar.
David Pitchforth, Managing Director of Jaguar Racing, said of Wilson's arrival: "We are delighted to have Justin join us for the remainder of the 2003 season in what is a richly deserved opportunity. In the Jaguar R4, we clearly have a competitive car and one that has helped Mark Webber secure twelve points thereby taking the team to 6th place in the Constructor's Championship. With five races left on the calendar, it is critical that we are maximising our potential with two race cars."
In a statement, the team added: "To the great regret of Jaguar Racing, Antonio Pizzonia has not been able to realise his potential with the team over the past eleven races. Jaguar Racing therefore has decided that it is neither in his best interests, nor in the team's, for Antonio to continue to driving as full time race driver at this time. In an effort to continue supporting Antonio's development, however, Jaguar Racing has offered him the opportunity to remain with the team as reserve and test driver."
At Minardi, team boss Paul Stoddart said of Wilson's departure: "It's a case of 'mixed feelings'. We are obviously sad to lose him, but pleased, and proud, that he has been able to demonstrate his undoubted driving talent at Minardi. A move to Jaguar Racing gives him the opportunity to develop his talent further and, at the same time, benefits Minardi enormously, as it helps to assure the team's future in Formula One. Like Fernando (Alonso) and Mark (Webber) before him, Justin is now clearly on his way. This also clearly illustrates one of the invaluable roles that the smaller, independent teams fulfil in this sport: they are able to give young drivers the opportunity to showcase their talent and establish themselves as Grand Prix stars of the future."
Wilson's replacement at Minardi is Copenhagen-born Nicolas Kiesa. The 25-year-old started out in Danish, European and World Karting Championship events, before graduating to Formula Ford, the British and German Formula Three Championships, and most recently, the FIA F3000 International Championship. He has driven for the Den Bla Avis team this season, memorably winning the Monaco Grand Prix support race at the end of May, and was lying fifth in the Championship standings following last Saturday's Silverstone round, where he scored another point.
"Looking ahead, we welcome Nicolas to the team," added Stoddart. "He comes with impressive racing credentials, and all of us at European Minardi Cosworth look forward to working with him."
Both Wilson's Jaguar drive and Kiesa's position at Minardi have only been confirmed until the end of this season.