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Honda announce 2008 young driver line-up 29 Jan 2008

(L to R): Mike Conway (GBR) and Jenson Button (GBR) Honda. Honda RA108 Media Launch, Honda Racing F1 Factory, Brackley, England, 29 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton 
  
Luca Filippi (ITA) Honda test driver. Honda RA108 Media Launch, Honda Racing F1 Factory, Brackley, England, 29 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton (L to R): Mike Conway (GBR) Honda test driver. Honda RA108 Media Launch, Honda Racing F1 Factory, Brackley, England, 29 January 2008. World © Bumstead/Sutton

During the launch of their new challenger, the RA108, in Brackley on Tuesday, Honda took time out to announce that Mike Conway and Luca Filippi will make up their young driver line-up for the coming season. Conway and Filippi tested for the team last year during November and December.

The duo, who will both race in GP2 this season, will test for the team during young driver evaluation days. According to the 2008 sporting regulations, these training sessions do not count towards the 30,000 kilometre testing limit recently introduced by the FIA.

“Both drivers greatly impressed us with their performance and commitment in the tests at the end of last year and, after a thorough evaluation, we have decided to reward them with the opportunity to work closely with the team this season,” explained sporting director Ron Meadows.

“Honda takes its commitment to developing promising young talent in motor sport very seriously and we look forward to working closely with these young drivers and helping them to progress to the very highest levels of our sport.”

Twenty-two year-old Filippi has competed in GP2 for the past two seasons and finished fourth in the standings in 2007. He began his racing career in his home country of Italy, winning the Italian Formula 3000 championship in 2005 before graduating to GP2.

“It is a great opportunity for me to be a part of the Honda Young Driver Programme and I am really looking forward to working with the team this year,” said the Italian. “I am hoping to learn a great deal from the team's engineers and drivers, which will help not only in driving the F1 car but also for my racing in the GP2 series. I would like to thank the Honda Racing F1 Team for their faith in me and I'm looking forward to my chance to drive the RA108.”

Conway, who was Filippi’s team mate in GP2 last year, has been part of Honda’s Young Driver Programme since March 2007. The 24 year-old Briton won the British Formula Three championship and the Macau Grand Prix in 2006, while in 2004 he clinched the Formula Renault UK title. Most recently, he got a brief chance to sample the new RA108 during its initial shakedown testing in Valencia last week.

“I am really pleased to be continuing my association with the Honda Racing F1 Team and very much looking forward to this year,” he said. “I have already learnt so much from working with the team and it will be very rewarding to be able to contribute to the development of the car this year. I drove the RA108 in Valencia last Friday which was fantastic so I'm looking forward to the next opportunity.”

Honda also confirmed on Tuesday that they will reward the 2008 winner of the junior racing formula, Formula Masters. The victor of the series, which runs alongside eight European rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, will get the chance to drive the RA108.