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Friesacher signs for Minardi 15 Feb 2005

Patrick Friesacher (AUT) Formula One Testing, Minardi evaluate new drivers. 22-25 November 2004, Misano, Italy. World © Moy/Sutton

Austrian driver Patrick Friesacher will complete the 2005 Formula One grid following Minardis’ announcement that he will race for the team this season. He will partner Dutchman Christijan Albers.

Friesacher, 24, is well known to the Minardi team, having previously tested for them and participated in their two-seater Formula Once car events on several occasions. He was a front runner in the FIA F3000 International Championship between 2001 and 2004, finishing fifth overall in last year’s series.

"For me, it is the realisation of a long-held dream to be in Formula One," said Friesacher. "I am also extremely happy that I will be making my debut in the World Championship with Minardi. I know many of the people in the team, and it really is just like a big family. There is a great atmosphere, and when you consider how many top F1 drivers have started their careers at Minardi, I can't think of a better place to start mine. In fact, I feel honoured to be part of the team, and will do my very best for them this season.

“I'm training really hard at the moment to ensure my fitness is good, but I can't wait for the season to get under way in Australia. This is a great opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it."

Minardi team boss, Paul Stoddart, added: "We are very pleased to have signed Patrick. He impressed team personnel enormously when he tested for us at Misano in November, and he was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show at the memorable South African F1x2 Grand Prix at Kyalami last year.

“He's a quick, and equally importantly, consistent driver, who is also capable of providing good technical feedback to the engineers. I firmly believe the combination of Patrick and team mate, Christijan Albers, will provide Minardi with an extremely strong young driver line-up this season."

The Minardi announcement means the only uncertainty over the starting line-up for next month’s Australian Grand Prix is whether Red Bull choose to field Christian Klien or Vitantonio Liuzzi as David Coulthard’s team mate for the first race of the season. Both have identical race/test contracts.