The Malaysian-backed Lotus F1 team is likely to have a Malaysian in its 2010 driver line-up – but only in a testing role.
The team’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne told the Malaysian Star Fairuz Fauzy is likely to be the team’s third driver. He said:
Fairuz will be in the team probably as a reserve driver or a test driver. He has the talent but we don’t want him to ‘crash and burn’ in the race because of his inexperience.
Take (Fernando) Alonso for example. He was signed as a test driver and didn’t get a race seat until after three years with Renault and he went on to win trophies. This is exactly what we want with Fairuz, for him to have enough experience because racing in the Formula One is at a much higher level than he [is] used to.
Gascoyne’s words are extremely diplomatic and the comparison with Fernando Alonso is particularly optimistic.
Fauzy has covered many miles since making his racing debut in British Formula Ford ten years ago, but hasn’t done an awful lot of winning. I could only find records of three races he’s won in that time.
After finishing 12th in the British Formula Three championship in 2004 he made the jump to GP2. He spent two years in the category without scoring a point, but had quite a few crashes.
Since then he’s been in the World Series by Renault where he finished a creditable second in the championship this year behind Bertrand Baguette.
Fauzy was one of Spyker’s five nominated test drivers in 2007.
For now we should give him the benefit of the doubt – he might just be a late bloomer. But it’s hard to avoid the impression putting him in the team is anything other than a sponsor-pleasing tactic.
And with testing so tightly restricted at the moment, any third driver will lucky to get much time in the car outside of straight-line aerodynamic tests.
In the meantime Lotus are facing questions about their wind tunnel model and the similarities it bears to Force India’s design. Gascoyne previously worked for the Silverstone-based team.
Lotus F1 team