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   Monday, 16 December, 2002, 16:11 GMT
Long road for Wilson
New Minardi driver Justin Wilson
Wilson's dream of an F1 debut has come through

New Minardi driver Justin Wilson will be aiming to prove his size will not affect his Formula One chances.

The 24-year-old from Sheffield stands 6ft 3in and has had to wait patiently for his chance in F1.

But after securing the 2m sponsorship required and with Minardi promising a car to fit him, he can now concentrate on living his racing dream.

After starting racing karts in 1988 when he was aged just nine, Wilson has progressed through the ranks.

His big breakthrough came in 2001 when he became the first Briton ever to win the Formula 3000 title, succeeding where Damon Hill, David Coulthard and Allan McNish had failed.

Wilson claimed victory in the opening round at Interlagos in Brazil and followed that up with wins in Austria and Hungary as well as seven podium finishes.

The Hungarian victory in round 10 allowed him to go to the penultimate race in Belgium in a commanding position and he clinched the title with a second place finish, edging out Mark Webber and Thomas Enge.

Jaguar driver Mark Webber
Wilson will come up against former F3000 rival Mark Webber

He also broke current Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya's records for points accumulated and number of podium finishes in a single season.

On the back of the win, he was invited to test with Jordan in October 2001.

But despite impressing, he failed to secure a permanent place with the F1 team.

He did manage to catch the eye of Minardi boss Paul Stoddart though and almost made his debut for the team at the 2002 Hungarian Grand Prix when Alex Yoong was dropped because of poor form.

But he had to give up his dream because the car was too small to accommodate his frame and the place went to his rival Anthony Davison instead.

However, Stoddart promised that the Minardi car for the 2003 season would accommodate Wilson and he has been as good as his word.

Wilson's elevation to F1 means he will again lock horns with former F3000 rival Mark Webber, who joined Jaguar this summer after a spell at Minardi.

Webber's only points last season came when he finished fifth in the opening race of the season in Australia.

With his place on the grid alongside the likes of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barricello secured, Wilson can now go and try to make an impact on the sport.

See also:

05 Dec 02 | Motorsport
25 Nov 02 | Formula One
19 Aug 02 | Formula One
16 Aug 02 | Formula One
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