Thursday December 2nd, 1999
Alex Zanardi is still a Williams driver, and therefore any reports that he has lost his seat for 2000 season are purely press speculation, a spokeswoman for Williams has said.
The British Autosport magazine, published today, reported that the former twice CART champion had parted company with Williams, after a year where finishes were few, and performance was generally disappointing. Autosport said Williams were still trying to confirm a replacement and Zanardi's departure would cost them as much as four million pounds in severance pay.
The Williams spokeswoman, asked whether Zanardi remained under contract, replied "that is the situation" but would not otherwise comment on the magazine report.
Autosport quoted Williams technical director Patrick Head as confirming the team were disappointed with Zanardi.
"We're well aware that the reliability on his car was poorer than on Ralf's but we're pretty disappointed," he said. "It's sort of still in discussion. I think things will get sorted in the next week or so...A contract exists, so it has to be a joint decision. If we wanted to stop and he wanted to carry on he would be able to carry on," Head added.
Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, the recently crowned CART champion and under a long-term contract with Williams told Autosport he would not be replacing Zanardi.
"It doesn't sound very logical to sack Zanardi," Montoya told Autosport. "I've heard rumours but I'm tied to (CART team owner) Chip (Ganassi). I've got a deal with him I can't do anything about. I'm racing in CART next year."
Williams are currently testing at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain with the new BMW engine that the team will use in 2000 - but only with Ralf Schumacher. Why Zanardi is not at this test to familiarise himself with the new engine and provide feedback if he is remaining at Williams is not clear.