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by Tim Beissmann

An 11-year-old Canadian boy has been signed up by the Ferrari Driver Academy after being hand-picked by the Formula One training school as a potential champion of the future.

Lance Stroll already boasts an impressive karting history having been named the Federation Sport Automobile du Quebec’s Rookie of the Year in 2008 and Driver of the Year in 2009.

Wins in national and international competitions in Mini Roc, Mini Max and Micro Max categories over the past two seasons attracted the attention of Ferrari.

The Academy’s boss, Luca Baldisserri, said he was excited by the signing.

“We are pleased to welcome Lance to our group. He is very young, but he has already shown in karting that he is exceptionally talented.

“We will follow him step by step in his forthcoming events in North America and he will soon also take part in our courses at Maranello,” Mr Baldisserri said.

Meanwhile, senior Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa says he is thrilled with his two-year contract extension, which will keep him in red until the end of the 2012 season.

“It is fantastic to re-sign for Ferrari,” Massa told AFP. “It shows that everybody from the team trusts you and I think that is a very good point for me, to keep pushing hard and harder all the time, to keep working together with the team to achieve the best.

“It’s everything I want and what the team wants, so I’m very happy to stay.

“It’s a little bit more time with Ferrari, which is a team I always dreamed to race for and when you see this is my fifth championship for Ferrari and I stay for another two years it’s a fantastic feeling,” he said.

The 29-year-old Brazilian currently sits equal sixth in the 2010 Driver’s Championship with two podiums and all seven finishes in the top ten. He has not won a Grand Prix since dominating his home event at the end of the 2008 season, and missed the second half of the 2009 season after a freak accident in qualifying in Hungary when he was struck in the head by a stray spring.

The signing ends speculation that Massa could be overlooked for Australian Red Bull racer Mark Webber, who currently leads the 2010 Driver’s Championship.

Ferrari team boss, Stefano Domenicali, said Massa had been the perfect fit for Ferrari for a long time.

“Felipe has been part of Ferrari for almost a decade and together with us, he has grown as a driver and as a man, going through some very difficult times as well as giving us moments of great happiness,” he said in a statement.

“We wanted to show proof of stability for the future, believing in the worth of a driver pairing that is without equal in terms of talent, speed and its ability to work together for the good of the team.”

The first practice session for the Canadian Grand Prix starts early Saturday morning Australian time.




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