Minardi adds Zsolt

Minardi has confirmed that Zsolt Baumgartner will drive for the team in Formula 1 next season. The Hungarian will partner Gianmaria Bruni in the Italian squad

Minardi adds Zsolt

Baumgartner's manager revealed yesterday (Monday) that his driver was set to conclude a deal with Minardi today. Baumgartner will receive funding from the Hungarian government to help pay for his drive.

"For me, Christmas has definitely come early this year," said Baumgartner, who made his F1 debut as a stand-in driver for Jordan in Hungary this year. "The two races I did this past season made me more determined than every that I wanted to be in F1. I have now realized that dream, although I don't think the reality of it has quite sunk in yet.

"I just want to start working with the European Minardi team as soon as possible, so that I can be well prepared for the beginning of the season. It is a huge challenge, but I am really looking forward to it."

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said: "We are very pleased that we have been able to finalise Zsolt's contract at this time. I believe he has considerable ability, and hopefully, the nurturing environment within Minardi, which has helped to launch the Formula 1 careers of so many talented young drivers in recent years, will also allow him to develop and hone his skills to the point where he firmly establishes his credentials at the very top level of motor racing."

After two seasons in German Formula 3 in 2000 and 2001, Baumgartner stepped up to Formula 3000 midway through 2001 with the Prost Junior team. He switched to Nordic in 2002, scoring a single point at Monza.

Baumgartner moved to Coloni this year, finishing 14th in the championship with six points, before being given his golden opportunity for Jordan when Ralph Firman was injured in Hungary. Baumgartner also subbed for the Briton at Monza.

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