Despite apparently having its two-car line-up filled for 2006 - with plenty of drivers also hankering after any testing opportunity that may be on offer - Midland F1 continues to offer newcomers the chance to run, with MotoGP star Max Biaggi the latest to be handed a test.

The Italian, dubbed the 'Roman Emperor' by his army of followers, is temporarily out of work pending confirmation of a likely switch to the World Superbike Championship, but the Midland opportunity could conceivably be seen as a viable career move. Biaggi - not to be confused with GT racer Thomas Biagi, who tested with Midland before Christmas - has already tested a Ferrari F1 car, and has talked about F1 as a possible alternative to life on two wheels.

The announcement that Biaggi will join Midland at Silverstone this week comes as some surprise, as the Italian was thought to be due in Australia to link up with the Alstare Suzuki Corona Extra WSBK outfit, which is rumoured to be allocating a fourth entry for him this season. The team is scheduled to test at Phillip Island this week.

While potential team-mates Troy Corser, Yukio Kagayama and Fabien Foret pound around the seaside venue, however, Biaggi will be taking over behind the wheel of Midland's interim F1 challenger, replacing regular pilot Christijan Albers, having had a seat fitting at the team's Silverstone factory on Tuesday.

"I am really excited about driving the Midland car," said the 34-year old Biaggi, "I must thank everyone in the team for giving me this opportunity and I look forward to comparing the thrills of MotoGP and F1."

Biaggi's appearance in the Toyota-powered F1 machine could also be seen as a poke in the eye for former employer Honda, which opted not to renew its ties with the Italian for 2006, and openly opposed attempts by various teams to sign him.

The outing will also help fuel the rivalry between Biaggi and fellow Italian MotoGP rival Valentino Rossi, who is undertaking a series of regular tests with Ferrari, with a view to possibly switching codes in future seasons. The pair have an intense dislike for each other and, should Biaggi somehow manage to land an F1 deal for 2006, the rivalry could be set to enliven the grand prix paddock.

Albers and Tiago Monteiro were the two names entered on the official F1 entry list by Midland , although the team has not yet officially confirmed the Portuguese driver's return. Dutchman Nicky Pastorelli currently occupies the third driver role, but is rumoured to be hunting for the sponsorship necessary to see him through the season.



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