Japanese driver Marino Sato will step up to European Formula 3 with Team Motopark in 2017, the team has announced.
The 17-year-old moves to F3 for what will be his third year in single-seater racing after spending the last two seasons competing in the Italian F4 series.
The Yokohama-born driver finished 10th in his rookie F4 season and was 18th in his sophomore year, also taking the first formula car win of his career at Imola.
"For the past two years, I had been racing in the Italian FIA F4 championship," said Sato. "Last December I tested with several FIA F3 teams with their F3 cars in Portugal and Spain.
"After having discussed things with my management and family, for 2017, I have decided to race a full season with Motopark in the FIA F3 European championship.
"I would like to say thank you to the team members of Vincenzo Sospiri Racing for giving me the experience of racing single seaters and sent me off willingly to the next step, and to Team Motopark for having accepted me to race full season this year.
"Doing well in the FIA F3 European championship means that you can jump up to Formula One, but it also signifies that it is a very challenging championship.
"I am going to be a rookie so I know that it’s not going to be an easy task. Instead of rushing to get results, I would like to steadily gain experience and make it a positive season for my future.
"Now I can hardly wait for the upcoming test in March and the first race in April," he added.
“We are very pleased that Marino Sato will drive with us,” said Motopark boss Timo Rumpfkeil.
“The first time we had a sequence of tests was at the end of 2015, and he performed really well. Since then we have stayed in constant touch.
“We are certain that he will deliver good results during his rookie year, since he has shown some great speed during the winter tests already.
“And we are honored to have a rising Japanese talent racing for us again! We are looking forward to an exciting Formula 3 season."
Sato becomes the second Japanese driver announced for the 2017 European F3 season, joining Tadasuke Makino, who was confirmed at Hitech GP on Monday.
2017 European F3 line-up so far:
Guan Yu Zhou
|Van Amersfoort Racing||David Beckmann|
Keyvan Andres Soori
Honda-backed Makino joins Hitech for Euro F3 campaign
Piquet sticks with Van Amersfoort for second European F3 season
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