Formula One newcomer Hispania Racing has ended its search for a test and reserve driver by signing Japanese driver Sakon Yamamoto for the remainder of the 2010 season.
Despite being linked to more high-profile 'candidates', including the out-of-work Christian Klien and Ferrari's Giancarlo Fisichella, the Spanish newcomer confirmed that former Jordan, Spyker and Super Aguri driver Yamamoto would play the back-up role behind Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna.
"It's a great pleasure for us to have signed Sakon as our test driver and reserve race driver for the 2010 season, and I am confident that his input into the development of our car will be useful and another reinforcement of our team as the European season starts in Barcelona," team principal Colin Kolles commented, "We look forward to welcoming Sakon to the team and working closely with him. His addition makes HRT F1 Team one of the most international teams in the paddock."
Yamamoto got his first taste of F1 back in 2005, running as the Friday test driver for Jordan GP at the Japanese Grand Prix. He continued racing in the Formula Nippon and Super GT series in 2006, but earned a full-time F1 race drive with the Super Aguri F1 Team from the German Grand Prix, after Yuji Ide lost his superlicence and Japanese backing accounted for original replacement Franck Montagny.
The following year, Yamamoto joined the GP2 Series while testing for Super Aguri, but swapped camps when a race seat became available at Spyker from the Hungarian Grand Prix. It wasn't enough to keep him on the grid in 2008, however, and Sakon joined Renault F1's development programme while returning to race in GP2, where he continued racing in 2009.
"I am very pleased to be joining the HRT F1 Team," Yamamoto admitted, "It is fantastic to be part of a new team and I hope I will be able to gather useful data whenever possible on Friday for the race drivers. I have seen how committed everyone at the team is and I feel the same. I will be doing my very best to support Karun and Bruno this year, and I'm proud to work with this Spanish team, because Spain is like my second home as I also live in Barcelona."
HRT also revealed that China-based motorsports enthusiasts website FCACA will back Chandhok and Senna at the fourth round of the season in Shanghai.
Established in 2007, it is one of the key partners on the Chinese motor racing scene and a pioneer motorsport brand for racing enthusiasts. FCACA focuses on the creation of a new business model and its dynamic logo will appear on both cars #20 and #21 at its home grand prix.
"To accompany the HRT F1 Team F1, Hispania Racing in its adventure is a good way to get our message across to the fans and promote our newly launched website hicaca.com
," a company spokesman explained, "The FCACA livery is already a familiar sight in the Chinese Rally world and now in the WRC. To compete is what really matters. What is completely unique for FCACA is that we work with different disciplines and we have the opportunity to add F1 experience to our range of activities."