Japanese F3 points leader Nick Cassidy to race for Prema in Europe

Japanese Formula 3 points leader Nick Cassidy is to join Prema Powerteam for the next two F3 European championship rounds

Japanese F3 points leader Nick Cassidy to race for Prema in Europe

The 21-year-old New Zealander will replace Brandon Maisano, who split with Prema in the middle of the most recent round at the Red Bull Ring.

Cassidy will step into the team's vacant Dallara-Mercedes for the Algarve round in early September and the penultimate event at the Nurburgring, but he cannot contest the Hockenheim finale as it clashes with the last round of the Japanese championship at Sugo.

It is the first time Cassidy has raced in F3 for a European team since he took a surprise podium in last year's Macau Grand Prix with T-Sport - that was just his fifth race outing in an F3 car, and played a large part in his securing his Japanese drive for 2015 with Toyota-backed TOM'S.

As a two-time Toyota Racing Series champion in his native New Zealand, Cassidy acted as a test driver during the 2015 TRS campaign, which was won by Lance Stroll, his new team-mate at Prema.

Stroll's father was instrumental in the roles of Prema's title contender Felix Rosenqvist and Maisano at the squad this year.

AUTOSPORT understands that Prema selected Cassidy after enquiries from several drivers from rival European F3 squads, preferring not to take customers from other teams.

"Firstly I would like to thank Prema for this opportunity, one that I am really looking forward to," said Cassidy.

"I am looking to learn as much as possible, to develop myself, with the aim of getting good results in these two race meetings.

"I'm sure there will be a few little differences to racing in Japan, but I feel prepared."

Prema team manager Rene Rosin described Cassidy as "a very quick and consistent driver who has not yet had the chance to show his real value at European level".

Cassidy's role, which comes with the blessing of TOM'S, will be viewed as beneficial to the title hopes of Rosenqvist, who is 20.5 points behind championship leader Antonio Giovinazzi and 8.5 ahead of Charles Leclerc.

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