Antonio Pizzonia, the Brazilian dumped by Jaguar halfway through last season, will return to Formula One racing at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on 25 July as Williams-BMW's stand-in for Ralf Schumacher.
The 24-year-old will replace the Spaniard Marc Gene, his fellow Williams test driver, who failed to impress recently in France and Britain. "Marc had two good cracks at it," a team insider said yesterday, "but was only able to return average performances. Now it's Antonio's turn."
Pizzonia tested yesterday for Williams at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, where he set the fastest time. At present he has only been confirmed for Hockenheim, but the situation will be reviewed after that and depends on when Schumacher is well enough to return. Sources at Williams say this could now be as soon as the Belgian Grand Prix in August. Schumacher suffered spinal injuries in a crash in June's US Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
Mark Webber, Pizzonia's former team-mate at Jaguar, is one of the favourites to join Williams for 2005 alongside Giancarlo Fisichella, who is almost certain to leave Sauber-Petronas in favour of the British team. Jaguar recently refused to release Webber early so he could complete the 2004 season with Williams, and after Gene, Pizzonia finally got his chance because, according to Williams, the Jordan team principal, Eddie Jordan, "was foolish in his financial demands to release Nick Heidfeld for Hockenheim."
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies