Jan Magnussen, a 23-year-old Dane, is coming home to the Stewart fold, where he made a name for himself by winning the 1994 British Formula Three championship, with 14 victories from 18 races. The impact was reflected in his move to McLaren-Mercedes as test driver and he raced in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix at Aida, enhancing his growing reputation with 10th place.
Over the past two seasons he has also driven touring cars in the DTM championship and the ITC series, and recently broadened his experience with four races in IndyCars for the Penske team.
Few doubt Magnussen's talent. He is quick and combative. But he broke his leg in a scooter accident last year and his detractors suggest he may not have the professional attitude and self-discipline deemed essential for success in Formula One.
Stewart-Ford are patently undeterred and have given the former karting world champion a four-year contract.
Jackie Stewart said: "Jan is the best Formula Three driver I have ever seen, including Ayrton Senna. He displayed an outstanding talent in the formative classes of the sport.
"He was a graduate of the Paul Stewart Racing staircase of talent and I sincerely believe he will be a good investment for us over the long term."
Stewart, who failed to lure Damon Hill, may prefer a more seasoned driver for their other car, which would put the likes of Martin Brundle in the frame.
TWR Arrows, who won the bidding for Hill's services, confirmed yesterday that their cars would be powered by Yamaha engines next season.