F1 2010 newcomer Lotus' chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has boldly asserted that the goal for Fairuz Fauzy is to emulate Fernando Alonso in progressing from a testing role to trophies – as the Englishman all-but confirmed that the World Series by Renault runner-up will be part of the Malaysian-backed outfit next year.
Though based in Norfolk, Lotus has predominantly Malaysian support in the shape of the Tune Group and an acting team principal from the Far Eastern country in AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes – a man who has made little secret of his desire to one day put a home-grown driver on the grand prix grid.
Whilst it had been speculated that former GP2 Series contender Fauzy – who saw off four rivals to claim P2 in the championship in the final round of the Renault World Series at Motorland Aragon last month – could be in-line for a race seat at Lotus in 2010, Gascoyne has cautioned that a test or reserve role is far more likely, alongside a racing pairing constituted, it would seem, by Toyota refugee Jarno Trulli and another experienced campaigner.
“Fairuz will be in the team, probably as a reserve driver or a test driver,” Gascoyne – making a return to F1 following a year off after parting ways with Force India – told Malaysian newspaper The Star
. “He's got the talent, but we don't want him to 'crash and burn' in the race because of his inexperience.”
Gascoyne has described Fauzy as being '99 per cent sure' of being on the driving strength in some capacity at the latest incarnation of the classic Lotus name – one that has not been seen in F1 since 1994 – but he warned against throwing the 27-year-old in at the deep end, especially in the light of the current in-season testing ban in-force.
“Take Alonso, for example,” reasoned the esteemed former Jordan, Renault and Toyota engineering guru. “He was signed as a test driver at Renault but didn't get a race seat until after three years, then went on to win trophies.
“That's exactly what we want with Fairuz – for him to have enough experience – because racing in Formula 1 is a much higher level than he's used to. If you ask any young driver if they're ready for F1, their answer will always be 'yes' but, at the end of the day, it's the experience that matters.”