World Series by Renault team Draco Racing have entered into a collaboration with the Force India that will see their cars run in the Formula One team's colours in 2009
The team, which will run two cars for Marco Barba and Bertrand Baguette next season, made the announcement at the Autodromo di Franciacorta circuit on the outskirts of Brescia, with Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi in attendance.
The agreement has been confirmed for just one year, although a seven-year partnership is envisaged.
The team's co-owner Adriano Morini told autosport.com: "With this collaboration we will have a preferential way for our drivers to move into F1. As everyone knows, until now we have placed many talents in F1, but this is a new and direct way.
"The world of F1 has changed, drivers are recruited very young and this project with Force India is ideal for both of us," he added. "For us it is not about money, it is about working with talented pilots.
"In 2001, after Felipe Massa won the second round of the Euro 3000 championship with us, I went to Maranello to speak with [then Ferrari team manager] Mr Jean Todt to recommend Felipe to him. He listened and said 'we'll see and we'll speak about it again.' I called back three weeks later and we arranged the meeting where Felipe was offered an eight-year contract.
"Now I can go to Force India and say 'I think this driver has potential for F1' or, 'no, this one is better suited to touring cars.'"
The development follows recent efforts by Draco's founders, Adriano and Nadia Morini, to establish a cross-category, driver development ladder.
Spanish Formula Renault Eurocup team i-Quick's evolution into 'Draco Junior' for 2009 was announced in October, but a further tie-in with Finnish Formula Renault 2.0 team Red Step has also now been revealed.
Details of the final piece in the chain, a new karting team, are set to be unveiled in January, but only the Formula Renault 3.5 cars will carry the Force India livery.
"After 20 years we were looking for a new project," said Nadia Morini. "This project was initiated with [former Force India team manager] Mr Colin Kolles, who has been a big supporter.
"I want to thank him, even though I am not sure of what, if any, his exact role will be with Force India next year. That situation doesn't change anything for us. In terms of the practicalities of the arrangement, Draco will have at least one person with i-Quick in Spain and one in Finland with Red Step.
"We will collate the technical data with our engineering team of Paolo Angilella and Andrea Tesi. The extra work is normal for us and we're excited by it."
The deal will allow Barba and Baguette to use Force India's simulator at the team's Silverstone factory, but there is currently no suggestion that either will receive a test with the team.
"The regulations next year will mean there will not be much scope for testing anyway, so I don't see this affecting my position," said Liuzzi. "This is an excellent opportunity for young drivers.
"When you have a link to F1 it can provide a 'carrot' for you, to help your motivation, particularly during bad times. In German F3 in 2002 I had the worst season of my career but the support from Red Bull was always there behind me, which helped me to keep pushing."
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