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   Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 15:52 GMT
Stoddart tips Wilson for big future
Justin Wilson and Minardi boss Paul Stoddart
Wilson has signed a three-year deal with Minardi
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart has tipped Britain's Justin Wilson as a future Formula One champion.

Wilson - who in 2001 became the first Briton to win the Formula 3000 title - signed for Minardi after finding the necessary 2m sponsorship money.

And Stoddart is delighted that he has finally got his man after Wilson missed out on a driving for the team last year because - at 6ft 3in - he was too big for the car's cockpit.

I believe he will prove to be rookie of the year in 2003

Paul Stoddart
Minardi boss
"Anyone who wins the Formula 3000 championship is definitely a potential champion," Stoddart told BBC Sport Online.

"When we tried to get him in the car in August and failed, at that moment in time my mind was made up.

"He must have been so devastated to have been so close and not make it, but my mind was made up then.

"I told him not to give up hope, that we would make a chassis that fits him for 2003. And I'm so proud that that has all come true."

Stoddart confirmed that Wilson has signed a three-year contract, a sign of Minardi's faith in the 24-year-old.

He said: "I believe he will prove to be rookie of the year in 2003 and that's why we've got him on a three-year contract - it shows the kind of faith we have in the guy.

"We've done everything to fit him in next year's car.

"We've got him lower in the car, we've had to move the pedals as far forward as we car, we've had to change the heel position of the car.

"About the only thing we didn't have to deal with was his head height. There's been a major modification.

"I think with the sensible budget that we have almost achieved, that we'll be able to do a very, very credible job in a much, much better car with a future champion."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
 BBC Five Live's Jonathan Legard
"Wilson was rejected by Jordan in 2001"
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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