Despite its rich British heritage, the new Lotus F1 team is set to race under the Malaysian flag in 2010, with home-grown drivers, sponsors and a base already being sought.

Iconic brand Lotus will make a surprise return to the Formula 1 grid next season after receiving the 13th and final slot that had been vacated following the withdrawal of BMW in July.

However, despite its renowned British roots and confirmation it will be run out of Norfolk initially, provisional team manager Tony Fernandes insists the Lotus project is a chance for Malaysia to expand its involvement in the sport having already come a long way since hosting its first F1 race a decade ago.

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Indeed, the Malaysian government claims two drivers will be announced by November, adding that six local and international candidates are in the frame.

Of the home-grown drivers, only World Series by Renault and GP2 Asia race winner Fairuz Fauzy is believed to be best prepared for competing on the F1 stage. Nonetheless, Fernandes believes F1 experience will be necessary for them to forge their way up the grid.

"My personal preference would be to try to get someone with lots of experience, even though he may be ending his career, who can add a lot of experience and develop the car," he told Reuters.

"Having the right personality that can transfer knowledge and enjoy working with people, I think is critical... there's no point throwing someone in at the deep end if he's not ready either."

With Fernandes adding that his Air Asia company will continue to back rivals Williams into 2010, he says long-time local F1 sponsors, Petronas, are instead being courted to switch from outgoing team BMW.

"We are certainly campaigning for Petronas to come over to us. We think it is logical as a Malaysian team that they should be somehow involved in it. But we'll have to make our case."

Meanwhile, Fernandes confirmed the team will eventually be moved from its initial Norfolk base to a factory at the Sepang International Circuit.

Nonetheless, despite his keenness to promote Malaysia through the team, he insists Lotus' identity will be retained.

"Colin Chapman had a fantastic pedigree and we want to enhance it, protect what's there and add value to it. Very much we see ourselves as the original Lotus and carrying on the processes," he added.

Only one Malaysian driver has ever competed in Formula 1, with Alex Yoong making headlines by debuting in 2001 and competing in a full-season in 2002.

Fauzy, however, has also previously tested for Spyker F1.