Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will race for Lotus next year, after the newly formed Formula 1 team confirmed its lineup in a press conference held at Malaysia today. Malaysian-born Fairuz Fauzy was also confirmed as the team's third driver.
The Lotus lineup was officially revealed by Malaysia's sports minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek in a press conference at Kuala Lumpur, and the minister emphasized the government's expectations from its support of the new team.
"I'm very pleased that local talents have been recognized to help drive the team, with key appointments being made among Malaysians in particular," Cheek said. "I'm very elated that the driver development program is already under way to promote motorsports as an affordable sporting activity among Malaysians.
"This project will not only make the country proud but will also be a launch pad for Malaysia toward future growth, especially toward high-tech industry. Indeed, this project should be 100 percent supported by Malaysians, individuals or corporations to ensure it becomes a success.
"Since the prime minister announced the 1Malaysia project [the team's original name before it secured the rights to race under the Lotus name -Ed.] in September, I'm very happy to note that the team has achieved significant progress, with the car being fully built and tested and I believe they are on track to make an impact next season."
The Malaysian minister further congratulated Lotus on its experienced choice of drivers, stating: "I'm personally impressed with the Lotus F1 Racing driver lineup for next year, with its good combination of experience, drive and stamina.
Trulli joins Lotus from Toyota, after the Japanese team pulled out of F1 last month; while Kovalainen has left McLaren, where he will be replaced by World Champion Jenson Button.
Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes also outlined the drivers' experience, but also said the Italian and Finn will bring exuberance to the team.
"Trulli will bring us a lot of experience to develop the team. Heikki is a young driver with a lot of experience so I think we have fantastic drivers, with Fairuz as well. It is a wonderful mix of experience, youth and passion."
Lotus is one of four new teams to join the 26-car F1 grid in 2010, along with Campos, US F1 and Manor. Fernandes stated the team's objective is to be the best of the newcomers.
"We are not setting any big targets, we want to at least be the best of the new teams," he said. "But I think it shows our seriousness today by announcing two really world-class drivers."