Mirko Bortolotti confirmed at Toro Rosso for Jerez test
19-year-old to drive for Italian F1 squad in December
Formula Two race winner Mirko Bortolotti has been called up to test for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One team in Jerez, Spain on 2 December. Bortolotti will become the second F2 driver to experience Formula One machinery this season after impressing in the F1 feeder series during 2009. This year’s F2 champion Andy Soucek will test with Williams next month as part of his prize for wining the title.
Next month’s test will be Bortolotti’s second taste of Formula One machinery, as he tested with the Scuderia Ferrari team at the end of 2008 as part of his prize for winning the Italian F3 title. The 19-year-old set an unofficial lap record of 59.111s around Ferrari’s Fiorano circuit in the F2008 car – eclipsing his testing rivals that day by more than a second, as well as beating previous efforts during the season set by Kimi Räikkönen, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene.
Following his impressive performance Bortolotti was quickly selected to join the Red Bull junior team, who immediately placed him in the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship. He scored his first series victory at Brno in the Czech Republic – only his third international single seater race – before clinching fourth in the overall standings. The Italian driver also scored a podium finish during a one-off outing in the F3 Euro Series in October.
Bortolotti, who was linked with the vacant berth at Ferrari earlier this season following Felipe Massa’s serious accident in the Hungarian Grand Prix, will be in Jerez as part of a three day post-season rookie test running from 1-3 December. In line with the new-for-2009 testing limitations, the session will only permit those who have driven in two or less Grands Prix to enter, and the Italian will test during day two.
Formula Two Champion Andy Soucek will take part in the opening day of the same test, when the Spaniard has his chance to impress the Williams F1 Team as part of his prize for clinching the title.
Mirko Bortolotti said: "I’m very happy and very proud. My target is to get to Formula One in the next few years so to be selected for this test is very important for my career. Of course, if I can get to F1 even sooner then that will be great, but first I must focus on Jerez!
"There are not many chances for young drivers to test an F1 car due to the regulations so I’m very excited and thankful to Red Bull for giving me this opportunity. It is great that Red Bull has looked at my performance in F2 – I didn’t have the best of luck during the season and it is always difficult when the field is so evenly matched. I think I finished in front of Andy Soucek in four of my five podiums so I showed that I had the pace. It could have been better for me but it was my first season in international racing so I have to be happy with the way things have gone.
"I understand that it is an important test for all of the Formula One teams also. Every mile counts particularly with the current testing situation so I will prepare myself well over the next few weeks and be ready to help the team carry out their programme. Of course, I always want to be on top and beat the other guys but I have to be realistic and focus on my own opportunity. I will try to learn as much as possible; I want to work closely with the team and see how all of the guys operate. My dream is to reach F1 and I hope this is the beginning of a good relationship with the team."