Minardi sign up tester

THE European Minardi Formula One team took another step in building its new team for the coming season by signing Italian Andrea Piccini as official test driver on Thursday.

The 22-year-old will also drive for the European Minardi F3000 team in this year's championship, and will take up the F1 testing role throughout the season.

"It is very important for my career that I start preparing for Formula One," said Piccini. "So the opportunity to become an official test driver for the European Minardi team is very exciting."

Piccini has raced in the F3000 championship for the last two years with Kid Jensen Racing, but has only managed a fourth place as his best finish, and has not yet had any F1 experience.

The European Racing F3000 team which he will join this season scored a win last year when competing as European Arrows, and Piccini hopes that joining the team will see his F3000 fortunes rise.

"I am very pleased to be driving for European Minardi F3000," he said. "A third in the championship last year in its first season of competition indicates to me it is a strong, well-run organization capable of preparing winning cars."

Piccini will provide a driver link between the F3000 and F1 European Minardi teams, and hopes he can help improve the Minardi F1 team's fortunes. "I intend to use the experience to learn as much as possible, improve my driving, and hopefully help the F1 team develop its car during the season."

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