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MF1 Racing launch Russian M16 03 Feb 2006

The new MF1 Toyota M16 is launched by Tiago Monteiro (POR) Midland, Alex Schnaider (RUS) Midland Team Owner, Colin Kolles (GER) Midland Managing Director, Christijan Albers (NED) Midland and Markus Winkelhock (GER) MF1 Test Driver, Roman Rusinov (RUS) MF1 Test Driver, Giorgio Mondini (ITA) MF1 Test Driver and Adrian Sutil (GER) MF1 Test Driver. Midland MF1 Racing Launch, Silverstone, England, 3 February 2006. World ©  Hartley/Sutton

MF1 Racing unveiled their 2006 challenger, the Toyota-powered M16, at their Silverstone base on Friday morning. The all-new car - adorned in a striking grey, red and white livery - represents the first Russian entry in the 56-year history of the world championship.

The launch of the M16 marks the Midland-owned squad’s final step in the transition from their former guise of Jordan Grand Prix, the team which the Midland Group took over from Eddie Jordan at the start of 2005.

"It has been an exciting, sometimes bumpy ride since we accelerated our plans and became involved in F1 a year earlier than expected," explained MF1’s Managing Director Colin Kolles. "But through all the ups and downs, we maintained a clear vision of where want to be and, step by step, we are getting there.

"We have restructured the company and refurbished our headquarters as the first stage of our long-term plans. The M16 car is 100% a product of MF1 Racing - solid proof of our serious intentions. But even though we have invested a great deal into building a brand-new car, we remain realistic about the challenge we face as a private team against the world's top motor manufacturers.”

"The M16 is a completely new car," said James Key, MF1’s technical director. "Obviously, the information we have gained from developing the EJ15B has gone into building the M16, but it is significantly improved in so many ways - mechanically, aerodynamically, even the way it is packaged. We are very optimistic about the progress that lies ahead."

MF1 also used the launch to finally confirm Portguese driver Tiago Monteiro - rookie of the year with Jordan last season - as 2006 team mate to Dutchman Christijan Albers. Germans Markus Winkelhock and Adrian Sutil, Switzerland’s Giorgio Mondini and Roman Rusinov from Russia were introduced as the team's test drivers, with the first three all expected to participate in Friday Grand Prix practice sessions at some point during the season.

"Both Tiago and Christijan had outstanding rookie years in 2005 and we believe this tandem forms a strong, competitive partnership that will benefit us in our first season as MF1 Racing," added Kolles. "Our three test drivers have all achieved considerable success in other formulae and we are confident they have the potential to develop into successful F1 drivers."

Summing up MF1’s hopes for 2006, team owner and Chairman and co-founder of the Midland Group, Alex Shnaider, commented: "With the M16, we have made a significant leap forward in every respect. I am very proud of the passion and ingenuity demonstrated by our workforce and partners, who are the lifeblood of this team. Everyone has worked extremely hard to make this car a reality and I am confident that if we maintain this level of commitment, we will continue to make further and more frequent leaps forward in the years to come."

Shakedown testing of the M16 is due to take place at Silverstone on February 4, followed by a four-day test at Jerez beginning February 7.