MotorSport Vision chief executive Jonathan Palmer has spoken enthusiastically of his company's partnership with Williams in the conception and running of the new FIA Formula Two Championship next year - with the champion set to be rewarded with a test in one of the hugely successful Grove-based outfit's F1 cars.

The organisation behind the return of the traditional grand prix feeder category - which has not run under the 'Formula Two' name since 1984 - has been put into the hands of MSV [see separate story - click here], and Palmer, who himself clinched the series laurels back in its penultimate year in 1983, is confident future F1 stars will result from the collaboration.

"Most importantly, with the whole objective of Formula Two being to provide a close step to Formula One, we really wanted a close relationship with a Formula One team for the project," the former Zakspeed and Tyrrell ace confessed. "We are thrilled and very privileged to have Williams F1 as our partner in this.

"Williams has a dedicated six-man design team led by Patrick Head, which will be responsible for the design of the new Formula Two car. The benefit of having a team of the calibre of Williams involved is that it allows for so much more scope when designing the car.

"It's interesting how Williams, Formula Two and MSV have come together now; it's the reverse of the situation of when it all started for me. I was in Formula Two with Ralt Honda in 1982 and 1983 and was test driving for Williams.

"I had been given the chance of being the test driver for either Williams or McLaren after winning the British F3 Championship, and choosing Williams was a great decision as I did a lot of testing and was able to work very closely with both Frank and Patrick.

"They also gave me my first-ever grand prix drive, in a third car in the European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in 1983 alongside Keke Rosberg and Jacques Laffite. It was a huge step for me, and I was very appreciative."

Palmer is now optimistic that by joining forces with a team that has secured some 16 world championship trophies in the highest echelon - seven drivers' crowns and nine constructors' - other young guns will be able to benefit from the same kind of opportunity that he had.

The new Formula Two Championship will award points all the way down to tenth place - rather than just to the top eight as is the case in Formula One - and the eventual champion will receive a fully-fledged test with Williams to evaluate his or her potential to graduate to the top flight. Subject to FIA approval, the title-winner and possibly more drivers too will also be awarded their F1 super-licence should they be successful in procuring either a racing or test driving role in F1.

"With Formula Palmer Audi's experience, Williams' design and MSV's careful judgement we are establishing a formula that will fulfil the function of one leading directly to Formula One at just a fraction of the cost of other series'," Palmer underlined.

"Formula Two has enormous heritage, and MSV is extremely proud to be re-establishing it, particularly in partnership with Williams. We are absolutely sure it will attract the highest talent and produce some of the best future Formula One drivers in the coming years.

"We are determined to make sure many more future famous names will come from Formula Two, and we are looking forward to an extremely successful first season - hopefully producing a Formula One driver in the process."

Those sentiments were echoed by Williams co-founder Sir Frank Williams, who ran his close friend Piers Courage in Formula Two back in the mid-1960s prior to the latter's tragic death in the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort. Williams has always had a keen eye for spotting young talent, and as such welcomed the new initiative.

"Piers was going to be a brilliant Formula One driver," the 66-year-old asserted. "He was able in his time in Formula Two to demonstrate that clearly. I also remember at Spa-Francorchamps in 1991, after about 30 or 40 minutes of the damp first Friday practice session we had the astounding sight of a Jordan car heading the timesheets, driven by a driver we had never heard of and whose name was almost unpronounceable!

"We were all sick as parrots, but it was splendid. I didn't know who he was, where he was from, what nationality he was - or where the bloody hell Jordan had found him! In the next race, of course, Michael Schumacher was in a Benetton, but Eddie was a lot richer...

"I've known Jonathan for many years, and am well aware he is a doctor - I can vouch for that. When I was in hospital in London with a broken neck, it took me a while to be able to eat again and he was the first person to succeed in getting some beans on toast down my throat!

"I do hope Williams can deliver to Jonathan a well-engineered car, but that's what Patrick is all about. He is a brilliant and very experienced designer - truly gifted - and will be very much involved."

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