Wurz gets Imola race chance 19 Apr 2005
McLarens Alexander Wurz will deputise for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya at this weekends San Marino Grand Prix, with Pedro de la Rosa returning to third driver duty. It will be Wurzs first Formula One race appearance in over four years.
Montoya was expected to be fit in time for the Imola race after fracturing his shoulder ahead of the last round in Bahrain. However, after tests this week medics have advised the Colombian not to race until next months Spanish Grand Prix, though they stressed the healing process is going well.
Despite being the teams official reserve driver, Wurz was unable to fill Montoyas race seat in Bahrain due to difficulties accommodating his 1.86-metre frame comfortably in the latest McLaren MP4-20. With those difficulties now overcome, the Austrian is set for his first Grand Prix appearance since his last Benetton outing in Malaysia back in 2000.
I am really happy to have the opportunity to race MP4-20 this coming weekend at Imola, he said. Since joining the team at the end of 2000, I have completed over 70,000 testing kilometres and it will be great to have the chance to actually race a West McLaren Mercedes car. I am looking forward to getting back to competitive action and hope I can secure a good result for the team.
De la Rosa, who out-qualified team mate Kimi Raikkonen and then finished fifth in Bahrain, admitted he was disappointed to miss out, but wished Wurz well. Although I would of course rather be racing again, after such an exciting Bahrain Grand Prix, I am pleased for Alex that he is also having a chance, said the Spaniard.
McLaren have been among the pacesetters in race trim this year. However, relatively poor qualifying performances have compromised their race results, with Raikkonens third place in Bahrain their best so far. They lie third in the constructors championship on 19 points.