KL Minardi Asiatech has revealed that it will be joined, as from this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, by an important new commercial partner, in the shape of Russian energy company Gazprom.

Gazprom is the world's largest gas company, accounting for an impressive 94 per cent of Russia's gas production and 23 per cent of the world output. The company produces about 8 per cent of the country's GDP, and contributes approximately 25 per cent of all tax revenues to the Russian federal budget. More than half-a-million Russians, and over 100,000 foreigners, are Gazprom shareholders, while 300,000 people work for the company and its related divisions.

Gazprom unites more than 40 subsidiaries and a number of companies into a single technological and organisational structure that integrates all elements of the gas production and supply cycle, from the manufacture of its own equipment, through geological prospecting and drilling, to consumer deliveries. Apart from the extraction of gas from prospected fields, the company also develops new sites and builds trans-continental gas pipelines.

"The Formula One world championship is undoubtedly at the pinnacle of motorsport achievement," comments a senior Gazprom representative, "To climb this 'mountain' is both a huge honour and an enormous task, which certainly cannot be attempted without the assistance of leading international companies. Throughout its history, Gazprom - one of Russia's most famous companies - has supported sporting events all over the world. The appearance of the Russian flag in the legendary and high-profile world of Formula One will earn Russia immense prestige and open significant opportunities for young racing drivers from this great country."

"I'm happy and honoured that such an important new partner has demonstrated its trust in our team," Minardi team principal Paul Stoddart commented, "Our experience and abilities will be fully at the disposal of Gazprom, in order to guarantee the company a return on its promotional activity that will more than meet its expectations. Moreover, this three-year agreement represents an excellent foundation on which to achieve the ambitious goal of bringing a Russian driver into Formula One as soon as possible."


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