Williams considers Montoya replacement

Williams considers Montoya replacement

Since McLaren announced the signing of Juan Pablo Montoya for 2005 the subject of his replacement at Williams has been a source of never-ending speculation. Williams is far from ready to say who will step into the Colombian's seat but there are ...

Since McLaren announced the signing of Juan Pablo Montoya for 2005 the subject of his replacement at Williams has been a source of never-ending speculation. Williams is far from ready to say who will step into the Colombian's seat but there are certainly one or two drivers that the team is keeping an eye on.

Jenson Button.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Jenson Button debuted with Williams in 2000 and he is one name that won't be discounted. Button is contracted to BAR through 2005 but F1 contracts are not necessarily set in stone. Williams technical director Patrick Head thinks the team would be interested if Button was available.

"I've never been in any doubt that Jenson has all the attributes to be a champion," said Head, according to the BBC. "As (BAR boss) David Richards has been very firm in saying, he has a fairly strong connection by contract with BAR."

"Drivers want a competitive car and the money they would like. If he (Button) gets that at BAR, he would probably have little reason for leaving. But we would certainly regard him as very high on the list of contenders if he was available."

Button's former teammate at Benetton, Giancarlo Fisichella, is also a possible. The Italian has been wandering a little aimlessly from team to team in the last few years but is still regarded one of the best talents on the grid. Fisichella lines up at Sauber this year but has made no secret of the fact that he's looking for a top drive.

"He is a driver who has a contract with another team which has clauses within it that have to be satisfied in terms of performance, championship position and so on," said Head in regard to Fisichella. "We will have to see if those are met. He's obviously an extremely capable driver. If he were to be available, he's obviously a candidate."

Giancarlo Fisichella.
Photo by Nikki Reynolds.
It was thought that Mark Webber was Williams' first choice to replace Montoya after the McLaren announcement, but the Australian is also under a long-term contract. Webber is managed by Renault's Flavio Briatore and most think that Briatore is keen for Mark to move into a Renault race seat in 2005 rather than another team.

With Montoya's arrival at McLaren, David Coulthard looks to be one out of a job. Head is not counting out the experienced Scot but Coulthard has been overshadowed by his teammates at McLaren, which makes him a doubtful choice.

"We haven't filled the vacancy yet and we're always ready to be impressed," Head comemnted. "But there has to be a question mark about the number of years in which David has been outperformed by a teammate in terms of points at the end of the year."

Ralf Schumacher's negotiations with Williams to renew his contract beyond 2004 have been faltering of late but the team wants to retain him -- providing the financial wrangles can be sorted out.

"Once the second half of the season is under way we will see where we are in the championship and get back to fighting over the money. Ralf is our preferred choice," said Frank Williams.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton