Justin Wilson has said that he would not rule out a return to Minardi next year, following the announcement that Austrian prot?g? Christian Klien would be replacing him alongside Mark Webber in the Jaguar Racing line-up for 2004.

Wilson has the opportunity of staying on as a test driver at Jaguar but, according to new FIA-imposed rules, would not be able to take part in the Friday morning test sessions having raced in Formula One in 2003. As a result, his track time with the under-funded team would be restricted, meaning that a race deal elsewhere would be a preferable option.

While at least one seat remains vacant at Jordan - a team that Wilson has tested with in the past - and he is also rumoured to have been investigating the situation in America, Wilson is most strongly tipped to return to the team that gave him his break in Formula One at the start of the season.

It's a possibility," Wilson told BBC Radio Five Live, "I have to let the dust settle and see where I think my future lies."

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart - a champion of talented but cash-strapped drivers - has always said that he would welcome Wilson back into the fold next year, and has now confirmed that he would be willing to strike a deal that allows the Briton to resume his racing career in Australia next March. Wilson made his name with some sterling performances in the under-powered PS03 in the first part of 2003, giving him the chance to move to Jaguar when it released Antonio Pizzonia after the British Grand Prix.

"I'm optimistic that we can find a way to keep Justin in Formula One," Stoddart was also quoted by Five Live, "I have been in discussions with Jaguar and, although it is too early to make any positive comment, I would be proud to have Justin back in the team if a financial deal can be put together."

It is thought that the ex-pat Australian may chase a cheaper supply of Cosworth engines for 2004 if he is to take Wilson on board. Cosworth also supplies the Jaguar, and the team's managing director, David Pitchforth, is keen to keep tabs on his British driver.

"We'd like to keep him as part of the family, and we have lots of irons in the fire to try to do that," he confirmed to Reuters after admitting his frustration at the ruling that prevents Wilson from driving on the Friday morning of grands prix meetings.

 

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