FEBRUARY 26, 1996

Forti signs Badoer

FORTI GRAND PRIX RACING has announced that Andrea Montermini is to be joined this year by fellow Italian Luca Badoer. Badoer was dropped by Minardi to make way for rent-a-driver Taki Inoue, but had been named as a Minardi test driver for the season.

Badoer is 25 and has been trying to make his name in F1 since he won the International Formula 3000 title in 1992. His first season was with the disastrous Chesterfield Lola-Ferraris in 1993. As a result, there was not much demand for his services in 1994 and he hade to make do with the job of test driver for Minardi. The team was sufficiently impressed to promote him to the racing team in 1995. For 1996 Badoer's longtime backer Marlboro Italy decided that it was more interested in supporting rising youngster Giancarlo Fisichella. In the end neither got the Minardi drive as Inoue's millions were more attractive than the money being offered by Marlboro Italy.

Badoer and Montermini will not have an easy time this year as Forti is not planning to have its new car - the FG03/96 - ready until the end of April. The team will start the year with updated versions of last year's disastrous FG01/ 95. These are unlikely to qualify under the 107% rule despite the fact that they will be powered by Ford Zetec-R V8 engines, which have been renamed Ford ECs. The team has a deal to use these units - raced last year by Sauber - for the next two years.