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McLaren "excited" by new F1 junior Bortoleto

McLaren Formula 1 team principal Andrea Stella says that the Woking outfit’s new Driver Development signing and 2023 F3 champion Gabriel Bortoleto is an “exciting talent”.

Gabriel Bortoleto, Andrea Stella, McLaren, Emanuele Pirro, Director, McLaren Driver Development

Gabriel Bortoleto, Andrea Stella, McLaren, Emanuele Pirro, Director, McLaren Driver Development

McLaren

The team announced recently that the Brazilian – who turned 19 last weekend – had joined the programme, which is overseen by five-time Le Mans winner and former F1 driver Emanuele Pirro.

While McLaren has been involved with many young drivers over the years, including Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris, the current MDD initiative was officially launched in April.

Along with Bortoleto its roster includes IndyCar racer Pato O’Ward, recent reserve signing and Toyota protégé Ryo Hirakawa, and Italian F4 runner-up Ugo Ugochukwu. 

Bortoleto won the F3 title in his rookie season with Trident, having scored two early season wins.

“We've been following Gabriel for some time,” said Stella when asked by Autosport about the team’s latest recruit.

“We are building this Driver Development programme, which is actually quite new. We started just a few months ago. So we are populating the programme with the most exciting talents, and definitely, we thought that Bortoleto was one of those.

“The guidance is given by Emanuele Pirro, as you know, and Emanuele prepares, fundamentally, the key development aspects that are relevant for us.

Gabriel Bortoleto, Trident celebrates in Parc Ferme

Gabriel Bortoleto, Trident celebrates in Parc Ferme

Photo by: Lionel Ng / Motorsport Images

“These guys will compete in junior categories. So our involvement is more support, support to their development, rather than a direct involvement.”

Stella stressed that the MDD roster won’t be extended too far beyond its current level.

“We're really very excited that we have this new entry in our programme,” he said. “And the programme itself will retain the characteristic of being limited in terms of the drivers that will be part of it, this is something that I can confirm.”

Pirro, who gave up his role as an FIA F1 steward to take the McLaren job, is also confident that Bortoleto is an impressive talent.

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“I’ve known him well since the beginning of his motorsport career and he’s got all that is needed on and off track to be a star,” he said.

“He also fits very well with our team culture at McLaren. I look forward to working with Gabriel and helping him develop in his motorsport career.”

As well as signing Bortoleto McLaren has taken up a one-year option on Brando Badoer, who finished sixth in this year’s Italian F4 series. He is the son of former Minardi and Ferrari F1 driver Luca Badoer.

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