Wilson dropped as Jaguar turn to Klien

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The Independent Online

Justin Wilson is looking for new employment after Jaguar yesterday confirmed the signing of Christian Klien.

Klien, who has been given the drive after a successful test last week, has been signed as team-mate to Mark Webber for 2004, leaving the Sheffield-born Wilson out in the cold.

David Pitchforth, the team manager, said: "I cannot thank Justin enough for his hard work and commitment since joining us after the British Grand Prix. Justin's speed, focus and experience are exemplary and our decision to put Christian in the race car in no way reflects upon Justin's clear ability as a competitive racing driver.

"We are, however, in discussions with Justin about how Jaguar Racing can help with his future career," he added.

Pitchforth revealed that Klien's rapid progress since driving a Formula One car for the first time yesterday had persuaded Jaguar to put him straight into the race seat.

The Austrian is also believed to bring with him a significant amount of sponsorship money from the drinks company, Red Bull, which may have been crucial to the deal considering the parent company Ford's financial problems.

"Christian was in as much control of himself as he was the car," Pitchforth said. "He was extremely calm, composed and didn't seem remotely fazed by his first ever experience with a Formula One car. His technical feedback was excellent and there is no doubt in our minds about the potential of this exciting young talent. He worked very well with the race engineers and demonstrated increasing speed as he became familiar with the car.

"Christian's professionalism is also very impressive and combined with his application, our decision to employ him as a race driver was based on merit, potential and speed."