Minardi team boss Paul Stoddart has repeated his interest in re-hiring Justin Wilson for 2004, should the British driver not be offered an extended contract by Jaguar Racing.

Stoddart, who brought Wilson into F1 at the start of this year, was quoted by Austria's der Standard newspaper as saying that, money issues not withstanding, he would welcome Wilson back to the fold 'with open arms'.

Wilson has been granted a six-week stay of execution at Jaguar, which will allow him to test alongside team-mate Mark Webber when the 'winter' test ban is lifted at the end of November, but is not thought likely to retain the seat he moved into shortly after the British Grand Prix in July. With Jaguar thought to be chasing Red Bull sponsorship, Austrians Alex Wurz and Christian Klien have both been touted as more certain team-mates for Webber next year.

Although Stoddart has suggested that Jaguar's best option may be to keep Wilson on board, the ex-pat Australian also admitted that eh would do what he could to offer the lanky ex-F3000 champion a second season in Formula One.

"If Jaguar decides that it will not retain Justin for next season, then he would be very high on my shopping list," Stoddart told der Standard, "Although the usual money problems would still exist, I would welcome him back with open arms."

Wilson's manager, former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, quoted in the same title, insisted that a second year in grands prix was the main aim for his charge, and admitted that a return to Minardi was not out of the question.

"We want to continue in Formula One, and Jaguar is our number one priority," he declared, "However, if that is not possible, I would not hesitate to return to Minardi, which does fantastic things on a limited budget. Sometimes it is necessary to take one step back to take two forward."

 

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