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New test drivers

THE Christmas period has seen several of the Formula 1 teams reaching decisions about their test drivers for the coming season with Williams nominating Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya as the replacement for Jean-Christophe Boullion and Ferrari announcing that Luca Badoer will replace Nicola Larini.

The 26-year-old Badoer is no stranger to F1 having competed in 35 Grands Prix raced in the course of the last four seasons. He was part of the disastrous Chesterfield Lola Ferrari team in 1993 and had to spend 1994 rebuilding his career as Minardi's test driver. He raced for Minardi in 1995 but was then dropped and moved to the Forti team. He has been out of work in F1 since the team ceased operations at mid-season 1996. In the last few months he has been doing more work for Minardi but goes to Ferrari thanks to the support he has long enjoyed from Marlboro Italy.

Montoya on the other hand is only 22 and joins Williams having finished runner-up in last year's European Formula 3000 Championship. He won the job after impressing the team more than the other three candidates: Max Wilson, Soheil Ayari and Nicolas Minassian.

McLaren is expected to confirm shortly that the European Formula 3000 Champion Ricardo Zonta will be doing some of the team's test driving in 1998 while Jordan is expected to confirm that Formula Nippon Champion Pedro de la Rosa as its test driver. It remains to be seen who will be picked as the Prost test driver but Ayari and Laurent Redon are both thought to be candidates.

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