Williams confirmed the signing of Mark Webber for 2005 on July 28th and Renault announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will join Fernando Alonso for its driver line up next year. Both moves have been expected, Webber's for some months and...
Williams confirmed the signing of Mark Webber for 2005 on July 28th and Renault announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will join Fernando Alonso for its driver line up next year. Both moves have been expected, Webber's for some months and Fisichella's more recently, and mark the next set of driver changes since Ralf Schumacher was confirmed at Toyota.
Webber has been with Jaguar since 2003 but the team has not performed to anticipated levels this season and Williams has been courting the Australian for some time. "The deal I have agreed with Williams today really is the most significant milestone in my career to date, and I have great expectations of what we can achieve together," said Webber.
"Of course I am focused on my job with Jaguar Racing for the remainder of this season, but I cannot wait to take up my position with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team for next year."
Team boss Frank Williams commented: "Mark is self-evidently a highly talented driver but his tenacity, determination and motivation are also qualities we prize at WilliamsF1."
"As a team, we have traditionally prospered with drivers who have a down-to-earth, 'let's get on with it' attitude. Mark is certainly in that mould, and I am delighted he has agreed to join the team for 2005."
There was no mention of who might be teammate to Webber next year. Williams test drivers Marc Gen? and Antonio Pizzonia have been deputising for the recovering Ralf Schumacher and are in with a chance of a race seat. Other names mentioned have been Nick Heidfeld, Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve.
Trulli announced at the German Grand Prix that he is to leave Renault at the end of this season. He replaced compatriot Fisichella in the team in 2002 and now the situation is reversed. Fisichella drove for Benetton for four years, then moved to Jordan, and currently races for Sauber.
"We are delighted to welcome Giancarlo to the Renault team," said managing director Flavio Briatore. "Since we last worked with him in 2001, every aspect of his approach to the sport has matured. I am confident that Fernando and Giancarlo are the drivers we need to achieve our goal of winning the world championship in the coming seasons."
Renault president Patrick Faure added: "He (Fisichella) has regularly surprised us with the quality of his performances, and his recent drives in particular have been very impressive."
"Furthermore, his approach to the sport has matured and he has made real progress since we last worked with him. Giancarlo will provide us with a very competitive blend of aggression, consistency and hard work."
Fisichella was understood to have an option in his contract with Sauber to move to one of the top teams should an offer be forthcoming and Faure denied that Renault had to buy out Fisichella's contract. "Renault did not pay anything to Giancarlo's current employers," he stated. "They accepted the Renault option without any difficulties."
Trulli is thought to be heading for Toyota next year but has recently been linked with Williams. McLaren's David Coulthard has been mentioned in connection with Toyota and Williams but neither team seems to be in a hurry to finalise its line up for 2005.
Coulthard has also been linked Webber's vacancy at Jaguar. Who will fill Fisichella's seat at Sauber in 2005 is another question mark -- there's a lot more movement to come yet in the driver market.