Sauber name new driver
Swiss motor racing team Sauber have named young Brazilian Felipe Massa as their new driver for the 2002 Formula One season.
The 20-year-old from Sao Paolo has been brought in to replace Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen, who last month agreed to join Formula One giants McLaren-Mercedes after just one season with Sauber.
Massa has shone in this year's European Formula 3000 competition, winning five of the eight races and the overall title. Following an impressive three days of testing with Sauber at the Mugello track in Italy, the young Brazilian was able to convince team boss Peter Sauber of his credentials.
"By deciding on Felipe we have once again opted for a talented young driver," Sauber said on Friday. "During the tests at Mugello he demonstrated his promising potential in a remarkable manner."
Massa said he was delighted to have landed a place in the Sauber team alongside German driver Nick Heidfeld.
"I hope that I will be able to contribute to the team's success," Massa added, "and help it to defend this year's outstanding position in the World Championship for constructors."
With only this weekend's Grand Prix race in Japan remaining, Sauber seem likely to hold on to fourth place in the constructors' championship, behind the far wealthier teams of Ferrari, McLaren and Williams.
Massa's route into Formula One racing has been a typical one, beginning with success in the world of carting. He subsequently moved up onto the Brazilian Formula Chevrolet circuit, finishing fifth in 1998 before winning the overall drivers' championship a year later.
Last season he clinched the titles in both the Italian and European Formula Renault competitions, before taking the European Formula 3000 crown with the Draco racing team.
Formula 3000 has proved itself as a stepping stone to the careers of many Formula One drivers in recent seasons. In the last 15 years Jean Alesi, Christian Fittipaldi, Olivier Panis, Juan Pablo Montoya and Massa's new driving partner Nick Heidfeld have all moved into Formula One after winning the international Formula 3000 title.
by Mark Ledsom
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