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Minardi sign Leinders as Friday tester 03 Mar 2004

Bas Leinders (BEL) Minardi Test Driver at the launch of the Minardi PS04B.
Australian Grand Prix Preparations, Rd 1, Albert Park, Australia, 3 March 2004

The Minardi team announced on Wednesday that they have signed Bas Leinders as their official test driver for the 2004 season. The 28-year-old, from Wavre, Belgium, will participate in Friday practice during Grand Prix weekends as well as in scheduled test sessions for the Faenza-based team.

Leinders boasts an impressive motor racing career, having secured championship titles in British and European Formula Ford, European Formula Opel, and German Formula 3 in a steady climb to the sport's top levels. Most recently, he has raced in the highly competitive Nissan World Series, finishing third overall in both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. He has also tested with Jordan.

"I had always held out hope that I would make it to Formula One at some stage, and I am obviously very pleased that Minardi has now given me a chance to show what I can do," commented Leinders. "I'm sure that my experience in a variety of single-seater race cars will allow me to adapt quickly to the demands of F1, so that I can start to provide the team's engineers and the Bridgestone technicians with useful information on car set-up and tyre performance. Hopefully, what we learn in testing on Friday will then benefit the team's performance in the race on Sunday. It is the sort of work I really enjoy, and I'm certainly looking forward to my first run in the Minardi Cosworth."

Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart, said of his new signing, "Minardi is very pleased to have concluded a contract with Bas that will see him become our regular Friday test driver, running in a third chassis alongside Gimmi (Bruni) and Zsolt (Baumgartner) at all Grand Prix weekends. He has a lot of useful, and relevant, racing experience under his belt, as well as the added advantage of knowing many of the F1 circuits from his time in the International F3000 Championship. I'm sure he will prove to be a real asset to the team and help us to develop the Minardi Cosworth PS04B quickly, so that we can start to maximise its potential as early in the season as possible. With what I believe is a strong driver line-up now in place, we can start to focus on the serious business of improving our performance."

Leinders signing means that, of the six teams eligible to run a third car in Friday practice this year, Sauber is only one still to announce a driver. Of course they may choose to only run their two race drivers.

See also: Portugal's Monteiro lands Minardi test seat