Burti confirmed at Jaguar for 2001

Luciano Burti has been rewarded for his work as Jaguar test driver this year with a seat in the race team alongside Eddie Irvine for 2001. Team boss Neil Ressler made the announcement at Monza today (Thursday), praising the Brazilian for his "yeoman service" during what has been a difficult year for the big cat

Burti confirmed at Jaguar for 2001

Burti's signing as Johnny Herbert's replacement came as a surprise to no-one as there were precious few other options. The team said the 25-year-old was one of three options for next year.

"He has been a yeoman test driver this year and done what we asked him to do," said Ressler of Burti who made a short notice debut at the Austrian Grand Prix when Eddie Irvine was hospitalised with stomach pains.

"We didn't really give him a chance to set good lap times and in spite of that - and with a heavy fuel load - he did set good lap times so we know that Luciano is quick. He is well known to the team and we have all been impressed with his conduct, his demeanour and we are confident Luciano will be a positive for the team."

Despite a massive budget and the backing from American car giant Ford, Jaguar has failed to land a topline driver. Heinz-Harald Frentzen opted to remain with Jordan, Jean Alesi is expected to continue at Prost and Dario Franchitti has recently re-signed for another term at CART outfit Team Green.

Burti is an unknown quantity competitively but is intimately acquainted with the team having worked at 25 tests so far this year and he faces another 10 before the season is out. In his debut while subbing for Irvine he qualified a lowly 21st after a day plagued with car problems and finished 11th in the race.

"I am very happy to be entering Formula One with Jaguar," he said at Monza. "It has been a year of hard work but it has definitely paid off. I am very proud to be with the team and such an emotional name and a proud history and I hope I can be part of a good future for Jaguar. That is my aim and I will be working hard for it."

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