Luciano Burti has stepped down as Ferrari test driver and the team has signed Felipe Massa to replace him. Burti has decided he wants to return to competition this year, although he will remain in contact with Ferrari for a possible future role ...
Luciano Burti has stepped down as Ferrari test driver and the team has signed Felipe Massa to replace him. Burti has decided he wants to return to competition this year, although he will remain in contact with Ferrari for a possible future role should the opportunity arise. The Brazilian joined Ferrari as test driver last year after competing previously with Prost and Jordan.
"I am very grateful to Ferrari for the chance that it gave me in 2002," Burti said, "It was a fantastic experience dealing with the best team in F1, and I had the chance to improve my technique, knowledge and speed while working with them."
"My agreement with the team should continue in 2003, but I have taken the decision to come back to racing. Due to our excellent relationship, the team has agreed to release me, but we will keep in contact should any future opportunities arise at either Ferrari or Maserati. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Ferrari and Maserati, and wish them good luck this season."
It's not yet known which series Burti intends to join -- CART and DTM have been speculated -- but he is due to reveal his plans soon. Ferrari has been widely speculated to have a long-term interest in Felipe Massa and it's no surprise that the team has signed him. Massa was dropped by Sauber after an erratic season in 2002 and until this week was in the running for the race seat at Jordan.
Now that seat has gone to Ralph Firman, Massa's best option was a test role and Ferrari could well be grooming him to replace Rubens Barrichello for next year. "Ferrari announces that it signed an agreement with the driver Felipe Massa that will join Scuderia Ferrari for the 2003 race season, as a test driver, working alongside test driver Luca Badoer," said a statement from the team.
Massa is likely to be present at team head-quarters in Maranello tomorrow when Ferrari launch the 2003 car.