Alex Wurz is set to end speculation over his future at Williams by announcing his retirement from racing at the end of this season.

Wurz has had a tricky return to racing with the British team this year, his third place finish in Canada and a fourth place at the Nurburgring being peppered by otherwise disappointing performances, particularly in qualifying.

When the Austrian's future was thrown into doubt by Frank Williams ahead of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, paddock talk suggests that Wurz has since decided that now would be the time to reveal that he will hang up his helmet at the end of this year.

Bringing a ten-year Formula 1 career to a close, Wurz made his debut in 1997 as a substitute for Gerhard Berger at Benetton, making a splash in his short stint with the team by finishing third in his third grand prix at Silverstone.

Guaranteeing himself a race seat in 1998, Wurz stepped up to a full-time drive with Benetton and spent three years with the team, but while he made a strong start in that year with seven top five results in nine races, Wurz would not reach the podium with them again.

Dropped by Benetton at the end of the 2000 season, Wurz was snapped up as the replacement for Olivier Panis as the McLaren test driver from 2001, a role he made his own for the next five seasons.

Although the single appearance he made in 2005 as a replacement for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya yielded a second career podium, Wurz switched to the test driving role Williams at the end of the year. Enjoying a successful stint as the team's 'third' driver, Wurz was promoted to first driver for 2007 to bring experience to match Nico Rosberg's youthful exuberance.

However, while that experience has often aided his cause in unpredictable races as in Canada and at the Nurburgring, Wurz has struggled to match the outright pace of team-mate Rosberg, prompting questions about his future, something the 33-year-old has duly answered.

Attention is now set to turn to who will replace him, with test driver and Toyota prot?g? Kazuki Nakajima the early front runner, although Adrian Sutil, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Vitantonio Liuzzi have also been heavily linked to the drive.

 

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