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Trulli, Kovalainen to drive for Lotus F1 team

Last updated on: December 14, 2009 14:52 IST

'Wonderful mix of experience, youth and passion'



Italian Jarno Trulli and Finn Heikki Kovalainen will drive for Lotus in the 2010 Formula One season, the new Malaysian-backed team announced on Monday.

Experienced Trulli had been strongly linked to the team after Toyota pulled out of the sport, while Kovalainen was freed up after being replaced at McLaren by world champion Jenson Button. Malaysian Fairuz Fauzi was named as the team's third driver.

"(Trulli) will bring us a lot of experience to develop the team, and Heikki is a young driver but has phenomenal experience so I think we have two fantastic drivers with Fairuz as well," team principal Tony Fernandes told reporters at a ceremony in Malaysia's parliament.

"It's a wonderful mix of experience, youth and passion and shows our seriousness to be a world championship contender."

Image: Lotus F1 drivers Jarno Trulli (right) and Heikki Kovalainen
Photographs: Reuters

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Trulli, who has managed one Grand Prix win at Monaco for Renault in 2004 in a 12-year career, spent the last five seasons at Toyota.

At Lotus, Trulli will be reunited with former Jordan, Renault and Toyota technical head Mike Gascoyne.

"We are pretty confident that the car will not only be ready but will be reliable and good enough to be fighting for good positions," said Trulli, 35.

Image: Jarno Trulli

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'We can achieve good results'

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Kovalainen has also won one Grand Prix -- in Hungary last year -- and will be looking to rebuild his confidence at Lotus after being overshadowed by Lewis Hamilton at McLaren.

"We all are ready for a tough start and a difficult few weeks and months ... but we can progress all the way throughout the season and establish our name and the team so that we earn the respect of everybody else on the grid and I think we can achieve good results in the medium term," said the 28-year-old.

Image: Heikki Kovalainen

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'We want to be the best of the new teams'

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Lotus are one of four new teams entering the sport next season in an expanded 26 car starting grid.

AirAsia airline entrepreneur Fernandes said he had set an initial goal of being "the best among the new teams" in 2010.

"We are not setting any big targets, we want to at least be the best of the new teams, but I think it shows our seriousness today by announcing two really world class drivers," Fernandes added.

The team's target was for a mid-January engine start and for the car to roll out by the first week of February, said Fernandes.

The Lotus F1 team, which was set up in September, is supported by the Malaysian government as part of Prime Minister Najib Razak's "1Malaysia" initiative to promote racial unity among Malaysians.

The government has said that it would not invest in the team except through national carmaker Proton, which owns Lotus.

Image: Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes

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