Justin Wilson looks set to be cast into the F1 wilderness in 2004, following news yesterday that Minardi have agreed a 'conditional deal' with Zsolt Baumgartner.

With only Jordan now with a vacancy, time as well as seats is fast running out for the Englishman, who impressed many during 2003, although not quite enough to keep his drive with Jaguar.

With Minardi having signed Gianmaria Bruni on Saturday, and Baumgartner, close to a deal with the team, Wilson's position looks vulnerable unless the FIA amends testing regulations next season, which would allow the Brit to test for 'the Cat' during the Friday sessions at the grand's prix.

Currently Wilson is too experienced to be allowed to take part, something that could now seal his fate.

Jordan meanwhile look set to sign Nick Heidfeld, providing they can secure the necessary sponsorship [they've already got a provisional deal], while Jos Verstappen, Allan McNish and Marc Gene have also been linked to the drive. Wilson meanwhile is thought to be a long-shot.

Team boss, Eddie Jordan told British newspaper The Guardian: "My main target is to get all the sponsorship I need and then decide on the drivers. Ideally sponsorship comes before the drivers, but obviously it would be difficult to consider Justin without some financial support."

So what options F1 wise does Wilson now have?

A testing role with one of the bigger teams would seem a smart move, although McLaren and Ferrari are pretty much sorted, the former with Alex Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa, and the latter with Luca Badoer and Luciano Burti, not to mention an option to use Sauber drivers, Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella.

So Williams would seem a good bet, they currently have only Marc Gene, although the Grove based squad have expressed little interest in Wilson.

Of the others Renault have Franck Montagny, Toyota have Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe, BAR Anthony Davidson, Sauber Jani Neel, while Jordan and Minardi never really have need for one.

All in all then, unfortunately, its difficult to see an F1 opening for him.

 

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