Formula 3 Euro Series rookie champion Edoardo Mortara will be a Volkswagen factory driver next year, as he aims for the overall title in 2008.
The 20 year-old will drive once again for the Signature team, which has secured a works deal to run the all-new Volkswagen Formula 3 engine.
Volkswagen has been a major player in world motorsport for more than 40 years, involved in both single-sitter racing and rallying. The German car giant has been a seminal influence at the grass roots of the sport through Formula Vee, originally founded in 1966, which launched the careers of champions such as Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg.
Volkswagen has also been extremely successful in Formula 3 in the past, winning 92 races between 1979 and 1991 in the German F3 Championship alone, as well as numerous other successes on the international stage. The manufacturer's new engine, which made its debut at this year's Nurburgring F3 Euroseries round, signals a firm intention for Volkswagen to return to its championship-winning ways.
Mortara, who clinched the Euroseries rookie title with two wins and two podiums in only his second season of racing cars, has already tested the Volkswagen engine and the French-Italian is looking forward to his new challenge.
"I'm very grateful to Volkswagen and Signature for giving me this amazing opportunity," said Mortara. "The Formula 3 Euroseries will be as competitive as ever next year but the reputation of Volkswagen speaks for itself. Having worked with the Signature team throughout 2007, I know that together with Volkswagen we will form an extremely strong package. Now that I have won the rookie title, the next natural target is the overall championship. While this is sure to be an extremely tough task, it is nonetheless my firm aim -- as well as that of Signature."
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen's motorsport director, said: "We are very pleased to have Edoardo in our team. For his young age he is already a very strong character and a good driver. He has everything that is needed to become very good in the future."
Next year's Formula 3 Euroseries -- a championship that has been won in the past by stars such as Lewis Hamilton -- gets underway next April with the first of 10 race meetings. The series will visit some of Europe's most prestigious circuits, such as Hockenheim, Pau and Zandvoort.