Ferrari protégé Raffaele Marciello has been announced as Sauber’s new test and reserve driver, a role that will include some FP1 sessions during the 2015 Formula 1 season.
The Italian won the 2013 Euro F3 title and claimed a race win in 2014 in his rookie season of competition in the GP2 Series with the Racing Engineering team. He also had test drive outings with Ferrari, most recently during the team’s end-of-season test session at Abu Dhabi.
“He proved his great talent in junior formulas,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn said.
“His season in the European Formula 3 Championship with 13 wins and the title victory was particularly impressive. We will give Raffaele the opportunity to become familiar with Formula One, which also includes him taking part in some free practice sessions on Friday. It’s great for our team to be part of his way to Formula One.”
“I really think that this is the best choice for my future career. I am also happy to compete for one more season in the GP2 Series, which, together with my new F1 role, will give me a very busy 2015 season. I want to thank the Ferrari Driver Academy for giving me this important opportunity, and now I really can’t wait to start delivering my best.”
Marciello stepped up to the role of Ferrari reserve driver in the final races of the 2014 Formula 1 season, following the accident which befell Marussia racing driver Jules Bianchi at the Japanese Grand Prix; Bianchi held the position while on loan to the Banbury-based squad.
Ferrari recently announced the appointment of former Sauber racing driver Esteban Gutiérrez to its reserve driver role. It is highly logical to assume that Marciello’s transfer to Sauber will allow for the opportunity to continue to develop a driver that Ferrari has earmarked as a future F1 driver without having to do the heavy lifting itself. In turn, Sauber will (in all likelihood) benefit from a discount to its supply of customer Ferrari engines over the course of the 2015 season, a deal which would no doubt aid the beleaguered Swiss team.
Image via GP2 Media Service