Italian Davide Valsecchi, current GP2 champion, has been appointed as Lotus’s third driver for the 2013 Formula 1 season
Valsecchi is said to have impressed the team during his test drive in Abu Dhabi last year, and will attend all 2013 F1 races in a standby capacity, should either Kimi Raikkonen on Romain Grosjean be unable to take to the track on a race weekend.
“I’m really happy that the team want me to be with them and I’m excited about the future,” said Valsecchi. “I hope that this is a really good start to a career in F1.
“My last year in GP2 in 2012 was something I really focused on and in the end I succeeded. Now, in Formula 1, my target will be a little different but my focus to do the very best job is still the same.”
While Valsecchi will not get a run during Lotus’ 12 days of pre-season testing (that is reserved for Raikkonen and Grosjean exclusively), he knows he has just taken another important step towards acquiring a F1 race seat of his own in the future.
“I very much hope, step by step, to get into Formula 1 as a race driver and being here as third driver is as near as you can get,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity here; if I do the best job I can this year then it will open up my chances for the future and we’ll see if I’m good enough.”
Jerome d’Ambrosio, who performed Valsecchi’s new role in 2012, remains on the team’s books as reserve driver. He is expected to focus on factory-based work in the simulator, getting an early and up-close look at the 2014 car.
“I learned from last year that you need to be ready in order to step straight into a race seat, so my aim will be to keep focused and be prepared,” said d’Ambrosio.
“Of course my ultimate aim is always to gain a race seat, however I know that by doing the best job I can here - and proving myself valuable to the team - I’m in a very good position should an opportunity arise.”