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MF1 launch first Russian F1 car

Midland F1 will become the first constructor in Formula One history to race under Russian license, as the team launch today their 2006 challenger, the M16.

Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider, chairman and co-founder of Midland Group, bought the Jordan team over a year ago, but the team was already entered in 2005 as Jordan Grand Prix, with their car, the EJ15B, having been designed and developed before the buyout.

"It has been an exciting, sometimes bumpy ride since we accelerated our plans and became involved in F1 a year earlier than expected," Colin Kolles, managing director of MF1 Racing, said in a statement ahead of today's launch.

"But through all the ups and downs, we maintained a clear vision of where want to be and, step by step, we are getting there.

"We have restructured the company and refurbished our headquarters as the first stage of our long-term plans. The M16 car is 100% a product of MF1 Racing - solid proof of our serious intentions.

"But even though we have invested a great deal into building a brand-new car, we remain realistic about the challenge we face as a private team against the world's top motor manufacturers.

"Our target for 2006 is consistent and visible progress compared to our rivals, while maintaining the superb reliability record that highlighted 2005."

The 2006 MF1 team and the M16 car will be the first time the Russian team will be entered as a constructor, and along with Toyota engine supply and Bridgestone tyres, the team will race with Tiago Monteiro and Christijan Albers as regular race drivers.

Markus Winkelhock, Giorgio Mondini and Adrian Sutil will test for the team, as well as serve as reserve drivers.

"Both Tiago and Christijan had outstanding rookie years in 2005 and we believe this tandem forms a strong, competitive partnership that will benefit us in our first season as MF1 Racing," added Kolles.

"Our three test drivers have all achieved considerable success in other formulae and we are confident they have the potential to develop into successful F1 drivers."

The M16, unveiled today, will have a grey, red and white livery, and technical director James Key said the car is a completely new design.

"Obviously, the information we have gained from developing the EJ15B has gone into building the M16," Key said, "but it is significantly improved in so many ways - mechanically, aerodynamically, even the way it is packaged. We are very optimistic about the progress that lies ahead."

Team owner Shnaider added: "With the M16, we have made a significant leap forward in every respect. I am very proud of the passion and ingenuity demonstrated by our workforce and partners, who are the lifeblood of this team.

"Everyone has worked extremely hard to make this car a reality and I am confident that if we maintain this level of commitment, we will continue to make further and more frequent leaps forward in the years to come."

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