Williams Confirms Zanardi and Schumacher for 1999
The Williams Formula One team announced on Tuesday that German Ralf Schumacher and Italian Alex Zanardi will drive for them in 1999.
Zanardi won the Indy car championship this season for the second successive time with the Target Chip Ganassi Racing Team for whom he has driven for the past three years.
The Italian will return to Grand Prix racing after leaving the Lotus Mugen Honda team in 1994.
“It has been a fantastic three-year relationship with my friends at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Zanardi, 31.
“Honestly, I’ve had opportunities to leave the team earlier on, but I never considered them because I felt staying with Chip was the best opportunity for me at the time.”
Zanardi had a major crash in Formula One racing in practice for the 1993 Belgian Grand Prix, from which his career never really recovered and led to his departure to North America.
The switch re-established his reputation as one of the fastest and most aggressive drivers in the world and he feels Williams offers him the package to prove himself in Formula One.
“I feel that I have gotten the most out of my three years and now it’s time to turn a page in my career.”
The Monte Carlo resident added: “I had a lot of choices and in the end I felt that driving for Williams would provide me with a fantastic technical package and fulfil my personal needs.”
Schumacher, brother of two-times world champion Michael, said: “I am very proud that one of the most successful teams in Formula One have signed me.
“I will do my best for them and together with Alex I hope we can return Williams to the front of the grid during the 1999 season.”
Zanardi and Schumacher will replace 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve of Canada and German Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who are moving to British American Racing and Jordan respectively.
“We are excited at the prospect of welcoming a second ‘transatlantic’ champion to the team in Alex, and Ralf is showing great potential,” said team owner Frank Williams, who signed Villeneuve after his 1995 Indycar championship-winning season.