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Heidfeld wins Williams seat 31 Jan 2005

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Williams FW26. Formula One Testing, Jerez, Spain, 10-16 January 2005. World © Capilitan/Sutton

Nick Heidfeld will be Mark Webber’s team mate for 2005, Williams have announced. His rival for the seat, Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, will stay on in his role as the team’s test and reserve driver.

Heidfeld and Pizzonia have been testing alongside each other over recent weeks as the team made their evaluations. Although there seemed to be little between them in the times, Williams confirmed on Monday that the more experienced Heidfeld will partner Webber.

“I really wanted this job,” said Heidfeld. “Driving for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is the greatest opportunity of my career. I will do everything I can to show that I deserve this place and I’m counting the days to the first Grand Prix. ‘Racing’ against Antonio was a lot of fun. He’s a great team mate. I respect him and I would also have taken on the job of test driver.”

Team boss Frank Williams commented: “It wasn’t an easy decision for us to make, and there was little to choose between the two of them, and we were in the fortunate position to be able to choose between two drivers who would be a credit to any Formula One team. Ultimately, however, it is Nick who has got our vote, but I am delighted that we have strength in depth with Antonio taking up the position of official test and reserve driver.”

Pizzonio, who joined Williams as a test driver for the 2004 season, was initially thought to be favourite for the seat after he successfully deputised for the injured Ralf Schumacher at four grands prix last year. He admitted he was disappointed to miss out to his German rival.

“I’m a racing driver and naturally I would rather be racing in all the Grands Prix,” he said. “But in the past I have also learnt how important test work is for the success of the team as a whole. I also know as official reserve driver that you have to be ready to step into a race seat at any time. Although it is not the decision I wanted, I’m pleased to be part of the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in 2005 and will give my best to help the team’s performance this year.”

Heidfeld’s signing marks a remarkable turnaround in the German’s Formula One prospects. He made his debut with Prost in 2000 and then spent three seasons with Sauber before being dropped at the end of 2003. He spent last season with Jordan, scoring just three points.