A1 Team Italy has grabbed the early headlines ahead of the first A1GP event in the Algarve after announcing the signing of Force India F1 test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Liuzzi, who also acts as reserve driver for the Silverstone-based FIF1 outfit, had headed to Malaysia with the team for the second round of the Formula One season, but flew out of Sepang on Saturday evening to return to Europe.

He will now spend two days running in the A1GP simulator in Modena before getting behind the wheel of the Powered by Ferrari car for the first time during the opening practice session in Portugal on Friday.

As well as racing this weekend, Liuzzi is also set to take part in the event at Brands Hatch later in the year, with the possibility of further outings if a deal can be agreed.

"I'm really looking forward to trying the A1GP car and to get back to racing, which is the thing I like to do most," he said. "I am pleased that Vijay Mallya and Force India agreed to release me for these races so I can feel the adrenalin of a race atmosphere again."

A1GP CEO Pete da Silva was understandably pleased to see the Italian announcement and said he was delighted to see a driver with current involvement in F1 named on the grid.

"This is amazing news for the series," he said. "Obviously his reputation goes before him and I am delighted that a driver of this calibre is happy to sit in an A1GP car for the pride of his nation."

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