Formula One: Spaniard Javier Villa Linked to Hispania Race Seat

Alistair HunterContributor IJuly 18, 2011

Javier Villa after winning the second race at the 2007 Hungarian GP2 round.
Javier Villa after winning the second race at the 2007 Hungarian GP2 round.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

World Touring Car Championship driver Javier Villa has been linked with Formula One team Hispania Racing.

The team's owners, Thesan Capital, seem to be looking for the Spaniard to participate in Friday practice sessions to prepare him for racing in Formula One.

He is then expected to take over Vitantonio Liuzzi's seat for the final race of the season in Brazil.

Villa, who is currently 23, started his racing career in the Spanish F3 Championship in 2004, finishing in ninth position, before improving to fourth position in the following season.

He also raced twice in the championship in 2006, scoring ten points, while competing in the GP2 series and not scoring any points with a joint-best ninth place finish in Valencia, the Nürburgring and Monza.

In 2007, his only focus was the GP2 Series, where he finished fifth after three wins, before finishing 17th in 2008, while also competing in one race in the International GT Open series.

His career continued with two seasons in the GP2 Asia Series, where he finished 10th and fourth respectively, while finishing 10th in the 2009 GP2 Series in between.

This made him the most experienced driver in the GP2 Series until 2010.

Last year, he won the Spanish Mini Challenge, before signing with Proteam Racing to drive in the World Touring Car Championship this year. He is currently in ninth position with 44 points after 14 races, scoring points in 64 percent of his races and finishing on the podium once in Hungary.

Daniel Ricciardo, the latest driver for Hispania Racing, in action at the 2011 British Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo, the latest driver for Hispania Racing, in action at the 2011 British Grand Prix.Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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HRT have become notorious for driver changes during their short history in F1. Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna were the original drivers at the start of their very first season, before Sakon Yamamoto and Christian Klien both drove in what had been Chandhok's race seat for the final nine races of the season.

Despite gaining more experience from Klien and Yamamoto, they were not able to match the results of Chandhok or Senna, leading the team to finish marginally ahead of Virgin Racing.

This season, Hispania are set to repeat that confusion. The original driver lineup of Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi has already been altered, with Toro Rosso reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo joining the team.

Ricciardo has been identified as a very talented driver by Red Bull, and allowing him to race will give him valuable experience as well as postponing the usual gossip about who he was going to replace at Toro Rosso.

He will relinquish his seat for the Indian Grand Prix, a demand likely to keep Karthikeyan's sponsors happy as the Indian driver competes in what could be his final F1 race.

Villa will become the fourth driver to race for Hispania in 2011 if the deal is confirmed, when he replaces Liuzzi in Brazil. He is then likely to be the main focus of their preparations for 2012.

Ultimately, the deal is unlikely to make any difference to how Hispania finish in the Constructors Championship this year, as they are on course to finish ahead of Marussia Virgin Racing, barring a very unlikely finish from the Russian team.

As long as Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio do not finish above 13th place this season, Hispania will gain slightly more money from finishing in 11th place in the Constructors Championship.

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