USF1 says Wurz more likely than Villeneuve for 2010

The co-founder of the new formula one team USF1 has admitted that Alex Wurz is a leading contender for a race seat next year. The big rumour surrounding the Charlotte-based outfit was that the 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, who was in the Hungaroring paddock on Friday, was close to signing a deal to return to F1.

On Friday, the French Canadian was spotted in conversation with BMW’s Mario Theissen, Mercedes‘ Norbert Haug as well as Bernie Ecclestone. But with USF1 contemplating putting an experienced driver alongside a young American in 2010, team boss Peter Windsor said it is Austrian Wurz who is actually the frontrunner for the former role.

“We have spoken to Alex,” he said. “Any new team coming into formula one needs to look at drivers with experience,” Windsor told the BBC. “Alex Wurz could perhaps be able to operate at our rate of learning.”

At the end of his disappointing final season in F1 with Williams in 2007, 35-year-old Wurz said he is retiring as a race driver. The ever-greying Villeneuve, however, is openly enthusiastic about returning to F1 and adding to his tally of 165 grands prix, most recently with BMW-Sauber in 2006.

But Windsor played down the likelihood of a deal with USF1. “Jacques is a former world champion and he comes in with that persona and that largesse and it could be that for a team that needs to grow at its own organic rate Jacques would come in with his own rate of expectation and they might not match,” he said.