Australian racing international Will Davison has been given the opportunity of a lifetime by the expat Aussie owner of the Minardi Formula 1 team, Paul Stoddart, and been offered a test with the team in 2004.
Davison, 21, who raced in this year's British Formula 3 Championship, will be given a seat-fitting in the Minardi F1 racer at next year's Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 4-7.
His test is conditional on his continued progress during next season, though the run in the thoroughbred racing machine is being slated for mid-2004 at a circuit in Europe.
Stoddart, who helped launch the career of current Aussie F1 star Mark Webber with Minardi in 2002, said that the test will give Davison a taste of F1 power in a bid to helping another Aussie onto the F1 grid.
"It's a very competitive business scoring a seat in one of the 20 cars on that (Formula 1) grid and lots of factors and forces come into play, but -- having helped Mark Webber get started, and enjoyed the best day of my life when he finished fifth on his debut in that unforgettable Australian GP in Melbourne -- I'd obviously love to see another Aussie come through and make it to F1," said Stoddart.
In fact, such has been the importance of the Minardi team in developing the future stars of Formula 1, that 40 percent of this year's F1 field were either current or former Minardi drivers. The list includes Webber, Renault pair Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella, Justin Wilson and Jos Verstappen.
Melbourne-based Davison, who is busy working on completing a deal for 2004 that would take him back to the British Formula 3 Championship for a crack at the title, is buoyed by the offer from Stoddart.
"It's great to have people like Paul who actually get out there and give young guys -- in particular Australians -- a real go," he said.
"I've dreamt of driving a Formula 1 car since I was a little kid and to have an offer like this really makes me hungry for more. We had an up and down season this year but it finished on an up so I have a fair bit of confidence and momentum to take into 2004."
"I bet that once I've had a taste of the Minardi F1 car I will want more. Paul's offer by no means guarantees me a drive in Formula 1, but what it does do is give me the chance to get a feel for the cars and the entire setup of an F1 team."
"The work of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation can't be discounted in this whole deal with Paul either. They support young Aussies racing overseas and it's nice to know that they're out there working hard on trying to have another Australian on the grid for their race in the years to come."
Davison has spent the past two seasons racing in England. He finished fourth in the British Formula Renault Championship in 2002 and made his debut in British Formula 3 this year, firstly with Alan Docking Racing and then with Menu Motorsport.
A win from pole position in round five at Croft in May and a second-place at Brands Hatch's season finale were two strong results from the F3 rookie, who impressed many with his performances this year.