GP3 champions Carlin have signed Ferrari Academy driver Antonio Fuoco for the 2015 season.

Fuoco became the first driver to be announced for Carlin in the GP3 series after impressing the team at winter testing in Abu Dhabi last November. The 18-year-old is already confident he will be able to challenge for race victories with the reigning champions in his debut season.

"I am so happy about this new venture," Fuoco said. "I tested the car last November and I immediately found the pace I need to be on top of the grid. Being part of such a successful team such as Carlin gives me the necessary tool to achieve important results."

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The 18-year-old Italian will make his GP3 debut after he competed in the European Formula 3 Championship last year, finishing fifth in the drivers' standings, highlighted by two race victories coming at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring.

The young driver also raced in the Florida Winter Series and picked up useful racing experience ahead of his debut on the GP3 grid. Before last season, Fuoco was crowned the 2013 Formula Renault 2.0 ALPS champion in his first season in car racing.

Team Manager Trevor Carlin has said he is delighted to welcome the young Italian to his team and feels together they will be able to defend Carlin's GP3 team and drivers' title.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Antonio to the team," said Carlin. "He did a great job in testing with us in Abu Dhabi and we're very grateful to the Ferrari Driver Academy for trusting us with this next stage in Antonio's career.

"Our only aim is to win our second consecutive team and drivers' titles in GP3 and with Antonio we believe we already have one driver who is capable of that."

Fuoco will begin official testing in the GP3 class at Estoril in Portugal on the 18-19 March.