Wurz to stay with McLaren

Wurz to stay with McLaren

Not so long ago Alex Wurz was thought by many to be heading to a Jaguar race seat next season but the Austrian has decided to stay with McLaren as the team's official third driver. When Jaguar discarded Antonio Pizzonia mid-way through the 2003 ...

Not so long ago Alex Wurz was thought by many to be heading to a Jaguar race seat next season but the Austrian has decided to stay with McLaren as the team's official third driver. When Jaguar discarded Antonio Pizzonia mid-way through the 2003 season, Wurz was its favoured replacement. However, a deal could not be finalized between Jaguar and McLaren for his services and Justin Wilson was taken on by the Leaping Cat instead.

Alexander Wurz.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.
With Wilson's contract initially only until the end of the season, it seemed that Wurz was the leading contender to partner Mark Webber next year. However, Wilson's deal was extended to allow him to participate in winter testing with Jaguar until the end of the year and Wurz has announced he's staying put at McLaren, the team he's been with since 2001.

"I am pleased to announce that I have decided to stay with the West McLaren Mercedes team as their third driver," said Wurz in a statement released today (November 28th) "It is no secret that I have been on the shortlist for the second raceseat at Jaguar Racing, which has been a privilege."

"However with West McLaren Mercedes' 2004 testing programme having already begun I felt it necessary to take my future into my own hands so as to fully focus on the season's preparation. West McLaren Mercedes is a loyal and rewarding team to be part of and I believe they offer me the best future."

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing director of McLaren Racing, said: "Alex's contribution during the past three years has been immense and everybody in the team is pleased that our relationship will continue. We knew that there were opportunities for Alex to get back into racing and would have supported him in whatever decision he made. However the fact that he will remain with the team is positive and will help to further emphasise our challenge for the 2004 Formula One World Championships."

Mercedes Vice President of motorsport Norbert Haug added: "We all had every understanding for Alex's ambitions to go back to racing in Formula One. The fact that he received offers from other teams clearly shows that he is seen as one of the drivers deserving a seat as a permanent Formula One racing driver. McLaren, as well as Mercedes-Benz, supported Alex in his plans to make his understandable wish come true."

"However we all are very pleased that Alex has taken the decision to stay with West McLaren Mercedes. He has contributed a lot to our technical development in the past three years and Mercedes-Benz is particularly happy to have in Alex a proven ambassador for our brand."

Wurz staying with McLaren is not necessarily good news for Wilson: Jaguar is trying out newcomers to F1 and Minardi's Jos Verstappen is also a possibility for the vacant seat. Austrian Christian Klein impressed Jaguar at this week's Valencia test session and is currently thought to be Wilson's main rival.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jos Verstappen , Antonio Pizzonia , Mark Webber , Justin Wilson , Alexander Wurz , Norbert Haug , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Minardi , Jaguar Racing