Lotus has confirmed GP2 series champion Jolyon Palmer as its reserve driver for the 2015 season.
Palmer, son of former British F1 driver Jonathan, was unable to secure a full-time drive after his success in the F1 feeder series but did test for Force India at the Abu Dhabi test in November. He has been picked up by Lotus for its first season with Mercedes power and the team says he will feature in a “significant number” of FP1 sessions throughout 2015, as well as contributing to testing and development.
Palmer, who won the GP2 title in record-breaking fashion, thinks the move gives him the best chance of finding a senior drive in 2016.
“I’m delighted to be moving into F1 with Lotus this year as third driver and I’m very grateful for the opportunity they have given me,” Palmer said. “My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now. To be able to learn with a major F1 team by working closely with them in every area and getting a lot of mileage in the car is the best way possible, as Valtteri Bottas proved. I am delighted to be joining Lotus at such an exciting time and my objective is to earn a long term future with them.”
The move means Lotus has three former GP2 champions on its books next year, with Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean winning the title in consecutive years (2010 and 2011). Lotus chairman and team principal Gerard Lopez is excited to see how Palmer makes the step up to a Formula One team.
“Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of third driver at Lotus,” Lopez said. “Romain and Pastor are both GP2 Series Champions, so we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides. For Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future. We are looking forward to seeing him in team colours and behind the wheel of our 2015 car, the E23 Hybrid, which represents an exciting new era for Lotus.”