Webber seals Benetton test contract

Benetton has confirmed Formula 3000 star Mark Webber will be its Formula 1 test driver for 2001, to support the race team line-up of Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button

Webber seals Benetton test contract

The 24-year-old Australian will dovetail his testing role with racing in next year's FIA F3000 series - most likely with Super Nova, which shares a common sponsor in D2.

"When Webber tested the B200 this year we were impressed by his attitude and skill," said Benetton boss Flavio Briatore. "I'm happy we can give him the opportunity to develop his Formula 1 experience as well as give him the chance to race in Formula 3000."

Webber finished third in the FIA F3000 Championship last year in his rookie season in the category, including a win in the rain at Silverstone. He was runner-up in the 1998 FIA GT series for Mercedes, but fell out with the Three Pointed Star after suffering a series of terrifying crashes at Le Mans in 1999.

"I'm very excited to have such a great opportunity ahead of me next year and to be linking up with two of the most respected names in Formula 1 - Benetton and Renault," he said. "It's a great opportunity for me to get some mileage and experience in a Formula 1 car and I can learn a lot from working with a top team. I'm also delighted I can race next year in F3000, so I can keep my racing skills honed."

As well as testing for Benetton at Estoril in Portugal last month, Webber has previously tested F1 machinery for Arrows as part of his F3000 deal with the European Aviation Racing team. He will get his next Benetton run when the F1 testing ban ends at the start of December.

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