Wurz steps into McLaren driving seat in place of injury-hit Montoya

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The Independent Online

McLaren, confirming that Juan Pablo Montoya's shoulder injury, which was supposedly sustained in a tennis game over Easter, is more serious than outsiders were led to believe initially, have announced that Alexander Wurz will deputise for him alongside Kimi Raikkonen in this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.

McLaren, confirming that Juan Pablo Montoya's shoulder injury, which was supposedly sustained in a tennis game over Easter, is more serious than outsiders were led to believe initially, have announced that Alexander Wurz will deputise for him alongside Kimi Raikkonen in this weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.

The Austrian has not raced since leaving Benetton at the end of the 2000 season, having come into Formula One with that team in 1997, but has been McLaren's test driver since 2001. He should have driven in Montoya's place in Bahrain three weeks ago, but did not fit the standard MP4/20 chassis. A bespoke chassis has been made since to accommodate the tall 31-year-old, who McLaren initially expected would leave to join Red Bull Racing's driver line-up for 2005.

"I am really happy to have the opportunity to race at Imola," the Austrian said. "Since joining the team at the end of 2000, I have completed over 70,000 testing kilometres and it will be great to have the chance to actually race a McLaren car."

While the Spanish driver Pedro de la Rosa raced for McLaren in Bahrain, Wurz was the Friday test driver and impressed by setting the fastest time overall in that day's practice. Asked why De la Rosa was being replaced, the McLaren spokeswoman Ellen Kolby replied: "Because we thought it was only fair for Alex, since he's been with us for a number of years."

De la Rosa, the star of Bahrain, will be McLaren's Friday test driver in Italy. The team have announced that they will decide which of the two will carry out that role for the remainder of the season after the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in May.

McLaren are third in the constructors' championship with 19 points in three races.

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