Minardi has signed Gianmaria Bruni as one of its race drivers for 2004 after the Italian was test driver for the team this year. The 22 year-old, familiarly known as Gimmi, who previously raced in British Formula 3 and the Euro 3000 series, was at...
Minardi has signed Gianmaria Bruni as one of its race drivers for 2004 after the Italian was test driver for the team this year. The 22 year-old, familiarly known as Gimmi, who previously raced in British Formula 3 and the Euro 3000 series, was at Vallelunga, Italy, last week for Minardi's first winter test. Team boss Paul Stoddart was impressed with Bruni's work behind the wheel this season and hopes he will follow in the footsteps of previous Minardi drivers such as Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.
"We've chosen him because we think he has fantastic natural ability behind the wheel of a race car and is a fitting successor to previous European Minardi drivers, such as Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Justin Wilson. It's clear Gimmi will be following in some illustrious footsteps, but we are absolutely confident he is a new Formula One star in the making."
For Bruni the deal fulfills his childhood dreams: "I'm just so happy," he said. "From when I was a small boy, I wanted only to be a Formula One driver. I'm one of the lucky ones, because that dream has now come true. My clear goal will be to improve with the team this coming season. This is only the first step, however, as I will just be one of 20 drivers on the grid at the beginning."
"My aim is to move forward and establish myself in F1, like other Minardi drivers have done in the past. I want to thank Paul Stoddart and the European Minardi team very much. They gave me a good chance this past summer, and it has all come together very quickly since then."
It is yet to be seen who will partner Bruni in 2004 but Minardi expects to make a further announcement in the near future. The team tested half a dozen young hopefuls at Vallelunga last week, any one of whom could make the grade. Stoddart is also keen to hold on to 2003 driver Jos Verstappen, who is still without a seat for next season after Christian Klien landed the Jaguar role. Former Minardi driver Justin Wilson is also a possible. Jordan is the only other team yet to announce a 2004 line up.