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BMW Sauber Friday drive for Vettel 23 Aug 2006

Sebastian Vettel (NED) ASM F3 Masters of F3, Zandvoort, Holland. 4th August 2006. World © Patching/Sutton

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel will drive BMW-Sauber’s third car in this Friday’s practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix, the team announced on Wednesday. The 19-year-old, who has tested a Formula One car twice previously, takes over the role formerly filled by Robert Kubica.

BMW Sauber went without a third driver at the last round in Hungary after Kubica stepped up to replace the absent Jacques Villeneuve. With Villeneuve now having left the team, Kubica will partner Nick Heidfeld for the remainder of the season - a promotion that has handed Vettel an unexpected Grand Prix appearance.

"I'm absolutely thrilled that the BMW Sauber F1 Team has shown its confidence in me by granting me this opportunity,” said Vettel, who last tested for the team in July. “At the same time, of course, I'm aware that my limited experience in a Formula One car means it's going to be a major challenge. But I will focus totally on the task in hand and try to support Nick, Robert and the engineers in their work as best I can to provide them with plenty of valuable information."

Explaining the team’s decision to trial Vettel in Istanbul, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen commented: "We are giving Sebastian the chance to prove what he is already capable of. Sebastian is the next in line in the squad of young drivers, and at the age of just 19 has already carved out a long and successful track record in karting, Formula BMW and Formula 3. Of course Istanbul isn't going to be a walkover for him. Sebastian has far fewer F1 test kilometres on the clock compared to Robert when he joined us. That has to be borne in mind. We will do all we can to support him."

Born in Heppenheim in 1987, Vettel began competing in karting in 1995, winning the German and European Junior Kart Championships in 2001. In 2004 he made his mark by winning 18 out of 20 races in the German Formula BMW ADAC Championship. Since then he has been sponsored by BMW and Red Bull. He tested for the then BMW-powered Williams team in September 2005, and then for BMW Sauber in July 2006. Vettel is also competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series, where he won the rookie class in 2005. This season he has already taken three wins and is in second place overall after 12 out of 20 races.