IndyCar Series 'Rookie of the Year' Marco Andretti will experience a Formula One car for the first time courtesy of the Honda Racing F1 Team when he joins the team's test in Jerez next week.

The team has invited Marco to drive its 2006 RA106 race car on Friday 15 December, the final day of its scheduled test, in recognition of his achievements in the Honda-powered IndyCar Series this year. The 19 year old recently completed his first season in the IndyCar Series, driving the #26 NYSE car for Andretti Green Racing.

A superb 'rookie' year saw Marco finish second in the 2006 Indianapolis 500, capture his first career victory at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma and finish the season in seventh position overall in the drivers' standings. Marco was further honoured with the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award and the Rising Star Award.

Marco is the son of two-time IndyCar Series championship-winning team owner and former CART champion Michael Andretti, and the grandson of racing legend Mario Andretti. He is also team-mates at Andretti Green Racing with Brazilian Tony Kanaan, who also experienced a drive in a Honda F1 car in December 2005, Scotsman Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick.

Marco will join the Honda Racing F1 Team in Jerez for the final test of 2006 as the team continues its winter development programme and evaluation of the new Bridgestone Potenza tyres in preparation for the launch of the new RA107 car early next year.

Marco Andretti commented, "I am thrilled that Honda has offered me this incredible opportunity. 2006 was a fantastic inaugural year for me in the IRL and I look forward to fighting for the championship next season. However, as you would expect of any racing driver, when Honda offered me the chance to drive, I grabbed it with both hands - no hesitation! I can only imagine what an awesome experience this is going to be and I'm just going to take my time and enjoy every moment."

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director at the Honda Racing F1 Team said, "We are delighted to have Marco join us in Jerez next week for his first run in a Formula One car. Marco has had an outstanding first season in the IndyCar Series, making a big impact at such a young age. As part of the extended Honda Racing family, it will be a great pleasure for us to give him the chance of his first experience of Formula One."

-credit: honda