Since Ralf Schumacher injured his back at Indianapolis, the rumour mill has been speculating that Williams would try and secure Mark Webber's services to replace Schumacher for the remaining races of 2004. Jaguar managing director David Pitchforth...
Since Ralf Schumacher injured his back at Indianapolis, the rumour mill has been speculating that Williams would try and secure Mark Webber's services to replace Schumacher for the remaining races of 2004. Jaguar managing director David Pitchforth has squashed that idea and also hopes to entice Webber to stay with the team rather than defect to Williams for 2005, as many think the Australian will do.
"Basically, Mark is not going to leave before the end of the season," Pitchforth told Reuters. As far as he's concerned, Jaguar does not need additional funds this season so Williams attempting a buyout of Webber is not going to happen.
"There is not enough money that would make me release Mark before the end of the season," Pitchforth stated. "I've got more than enough money this year to run the team well...I don't need more funds this year. There's no reason why I would enter into any agreement."
The rumours surrounding Webber and Williams have been going strong for some time but Pitchforth has not given up on trying to persuade Webber to stay with Jaguar. The Leaping Cat hasn't leapt very far in the performance stakes this season and there seems little reason for Webber to stay. Pitchforth knows he will have to work hard to convince Mark.
"I haven't done my sales pitch to Mark Webber yet," he said. "I need to get it all in place first...but I need to do that and make it to him before he's been wooed and made any decision to go anywhere else. To get Mark Webber to stay now I have to present him with a case that shows him we've got the funding and the plans to take the team forward."
Webber has a performance clause in his contract that Jaguar has to be in the top six teams by mid-summer -- Hungary, according to Webber himself -- for it to be able to force him to stay. Jaguar is currently ninth, behind the similarly Cosworth powered Jordan team.
"If the team is not performing at the right level, he (Webber) can look to moving on," said Pitchforth. "If we had been higher up in the championship, I'd have been in a position where I could have made him stay. But we're not in that position."