Jaguar, the Formula One team, have handed a test drive to Minardi's Mark Webber as they line up a replacement for Eddie Irvine. The Ulsterman's lucrative contract with the team expires this summer and, amid rumours Irvine will rejoin Jordan, Jaguar are making plans in case contract negotiations fail.
Fernando Alonso, the Renault test driver, recently tested a Jaguar – and set impressive times at Silverstone – and now Webber has been given a chance to stake his claim later this month. The Australian enjoyed a fairy-tale start to his Formula One career as he finished in fifth place in Melbourne – the under-funded Minardi team's first points for more than two years.
"We can confirm that Mark Webber will be testing the Jaguar R3 in Barcelona on Friday, June 28," Nav Sidhu, spokesman for Jaguar Racing, said. "This one-day test is aimed at evaluating Mark and subsequently exploring our options for the 2003 season. We have not yet begun official discussions with Eddie Irvine for next season and, in the event that the two sides agree to part company, Mark's test is nothing more than a possible contingency option. This is normal procedure and we are not looking to change our driver line-up for the remainder of this season."
* Jürgen Hubbert, the head of DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes car division, has taken over at the helm of a company set up by Formula One carmakers to plan for a possible new grand prix series in 2008. A statement issued by GPWC Holdings yesterday also said that Ferrari president, Luca di Montezemolo, would represent the Italian carmaker, Fiat, as a director of the Dutch-registered company.
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