The KL Minardi team today announces that highly regarded British driver, Justin Wilson, has signed to drive for the Faenza-based squad in 2003.

The 24-year-old, from Northampton, arrives in Formula One with an impeccable racing record, having won the Formula Vauxhall Junior Challenge Cup (1995), Formula Palmer Audi Championship (1998), and most significantly, the 2001 FIA F3000 International Championship titles on his climb to the top level of motor racing. Wilson becomes the second Englishman, the third Briton, and at 1.92m, undoubtedly the tallest driver, in Formula One in 2003.

"Following a successful seat-fitting a few weeks ago at Faenza, where we ascertained that Justin would be comfortable in next year's Minardi chassis, we have been working closely with his management representatives in a bid to sort out arrangements that would allow him to drive for the team next season," says Team Principal, Paul Stoddart. "I am therefore delighted to announce that we have signed a three-year contract with Justin that will see him driving for Minardi in 2003, and beyond.

"Justin is an exceptionally gifted young driver whose career we have been following for some time. I'm convinced he will quickly prove that he has a very bright future ahead of him in Formula One, just as Minardi drivers Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber did before him. Combined with our new chassis and Cosworth engine package, I believe today's announcement indicates the team's overall level of competitiveness will rise significantly in 2003, in line with the five-year plan laid down for Minardi at the beginning of 2001."

For Wilson, his arrival in Formula One marks the realisation of a long-held dream. "Like most young racing drivers, the ultimate aim has to be to reach Formula One," he says. "That dream has now become reality, but I probably still won't quite believe it's happened until I get behind the wheel of the new Minardi for the first time. A great many people have helped me to get to this point in my motor racing career, but I particularly want to thank my father, Keith, for his wholehearted support and encouragement, Jonathan Palmer, for his valuable guidance and advice, and Paul Stoddart, for giving me the chance to show what I can do in Formula One with Minardi. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I intend to make the most of it."