Red Bull has signed Italian F3 champion Mirko Bortlotti as part of its junior driver programme, and placed him in the FIA Formula Two Championship for the 2009 season.
Bortolotti has recently tested a Scuderia Ferrari F2008 F1 car as part of his F3 title prize – setting an unofficial lap record for the car at Fiorano just before Christmas. This followed a highly impressive campaign in the 2008 Italian F3 Championship, where he took nine wins and a total of 15 podiums in just 16 races. A run in the new A1GP car and the F1 test with Ferrari followed, before Red Bull invited Bortolotti to join its prestigious Junior Team.
Bortolotti’s first full season of single seater racing was in 2006, where he finished as runner-up in Formula Azzurra. Fellow F2 competitor Nicola De Marco also contested the same championship, finishing third. A podium in the Formula Renault 2.0 Italy Winter Series followed before he stepped up to compete in Italian F3 in 2007. One win and seven podiums helped Bortolotti to fourth in the overall standings, setting him up for a championship assault in 2008.
Mirko Bortolotti said: “This is fantastic news for me because only the very best international junior drivers get into the Red Bull Junior Team. Formula Two is a very exciting championship and I am extremely grateful to the Red Bull organisation and of course, the people at Formula Two for giving me this opportunity. I enjoyed a great season in 2008 but I know that I still have a lot to learn. Having already driven a Formula One car, I am desperate to have this experience again in my career. Through this chance in F2 and my relationship with Red Bull, I hope this dream can be realised in the future.”
Jonathan Palmer, Chief Executive of championship organiser MotorSport Vision, said: “The Red Bull junior programme has been phenomenally successful and many of their drivers, like Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Buemi, have progressed to Formula One. Red Bull has clearly identified Mirko as a future star, and I’m thrilled they have chosen Formula Two as the next step in his career. His results last season were quite exceptional, and his performance in the F1 test at Fiorano showed his considerable potential. Mirko is an exciting prospect and I expect him to be a major contender for the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship.”
Mirko Bortolotti is the third member of the Red Bull Junior Team to be confirmed in F2, following Canadian Robert Wickens and Russian driver Mikhail Aleshin.