Will Stevens misses FP1, but confirmed as Marussia reserve driver

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Will Stevens’ hopes of making his grand prix weekend debut at Suzuka were dashed today when the required paperwork failed to be processed, preventing him from taking part in FP1 for Marussia as planned.

However, the Anglo-Russian team did confirm today that Stevens has joined as its official reserve driver, working in tandem with American racer Alexander Rossi.

Like Rossi, Stevens was a member of Caterham’s young driver programme under the ownership of Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes. However, his position became unclear following the sale of the team back in July, putting his F1 hopes on hold as he continued to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.

A deal with Marussia was struck this week for Stevens to join as a reserve driver, with the team announcing the news today and confirming that the Briton will take part in “a number of Free Practice 1 sessions during the remainder of the season”.

“I’m really thrilled to be given this opportunity by the Marussia F1 Team,” Stevens said. “They are a great team, with enormous potential, and I’m so happy to be joining them at this exciting time in their development.

“Off the back of my F1 tests with Caterham, I can’t wait to get my first taste of the MR03. I’m looking forward to rewarding their faith in me and to making a positive contribution to our progress in the 2014 championship, and beyond.”

Team principal John Booth was pleased to confirm Stevens’ signing, saying that he had been a long-term target of Marussia.

“Will is a driver we have been watching since he arrived in Formula Renault,” he said. “We have admired his ability to learn quickly and compete in the thick of the action, so we are very pleased to add him to our roster of Official Reserve Drivers, which is now looking very strong indeed.

“It is great to be able to take such promising talents as Will and Alexander under our wing and help them progress to the next level. We look forward to seeing Will perform in the MR03, when I am sure he will demonstrate some further signs of his obvious potential.”

Stevens was unable to take part in free practice at Suzuka today as planned because of industrial action back in Germany, from where the paperwork was travelling.