British drivers Anthony Davidson and Gary Paffett are set for a shootout in a bid to win a drive with the Sauber team next season, according to British newspaper The Sun.

The Swiss team are on the lookout for a replacement for Giancarlo Fisichella, who will switch to Renault at the end of the season and, according to the report, the duo are on the shortlist to replace the Italian and will be invited to take part in a test session to decide who wins the seat.

Team boss Peter Sauber is renowned for giving young drivers their chance in F1. In 2001 he plucked Kimi Raikkonen from the British Formula Renault Championship, replacing the Finn with the equally young Felipe Massa a year later when he moved to McLaren.

It now appears Sauber wants to follow the youth route again to find Fisichella's replacement.

"Anthony has shown he is very quick and Gary is doing a very good job in DTM," he is quoted as saying. "We are after a young, wild driver rather than an experienced racer."

Both Davidson and Paffett have performed strongly in their respective roles during the course of the 2004 season.

On more than one occasion, Davidson has been near the top of the timesheets in his role as third driver with BAR during Friday practice at Grand Prix meetings this season, a series of performances that has seen him linked with numerous drives for next season. However it remains to be seen whether or not current boss David Richards would be keen to let a promising driver like Davidson leave the Honda powered team, especially if - as expected - Jenson Button switches to Williams for 2005.

Paffett meanwhile has taken the DTM by storm in his first season with the works Mercedes Benz team, with three wins helping putting him third in the standings. He also won the non-championship exhibition race held on the streets of Shanghai to establish himself as one of the hottest properties outside F1. Having previously tested with McLaren after winning the Autosport Young Driver of the Year award in 1999, the 23-year-old would no doubt relish the opportunity to make the step up to Formula One.

One person that does now seem to be out of the running for a drive with Sauber for 2005 is Jacques Villeneuve.

The 1997 World Champion found himself without a drive this season after being replaced at BAR by Takuma Sato and it was reported only last week that the Canadian had visited Sauber headquarters in Himwil - but a decision to put youth over experience would rule Villeneuve out of the equation.

It also lowers the possible options for David Coulthard, who leaves McLaren at the end of the year.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment