Lotus F1 has confirmed that it has signed the first of its two drivers for the 2010 world championship campaign, what will mark its maiden season in the top flight - and whilst it has long been believed that Toyota refugee Jarno Trulli is the strongest candidate for the seat, it has also been suggested that impressive 2009 debutant Kamui Kobayashi could be the man most likely.

The announcement was made by Lotus F1 team principal Tony Fernandes on social media website Twitter, but no name was given. Trulli developed a close working relationship with the Malaysian-backed outfit's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne during their time spent together at Jordan, Renault and Toyota, whilst Kobayashi turned a number of heads when he unexpectedly made his grand prix bow for Toyota in place of the injured Timo Glock in Brazil, and subsequently made the points second time out in Abu Dhabi - and the young Japanese ace has already claimed that of all the 2010 newcomers, Lotus would be his preferred option [see separate story - click here].

'One Malaysia Formula One team aka Lotus has signed its first driver,' aviation entrepreneur Fernandes revealed. 'Public announcement soon. The dream continues.'

The news means that Lotus is the second of the new teams for next season - with Manor, USF1, Campos and possibly Qadbak-Sauber all similarly set to swell the grid numbers - to snap up its first driver, after Campos revealed last week that it had secured the services of 2008 GP2 Series runner-up Bruno Senna.

Homegrown hero and World Series by Renault runner-up Fairuz Fauzy is expected to be given the role of reserve driver at Lotus, whilst Malaysian news agency Bernama reports that the Norfolk-based operation has successfully passed its own side impact and nose box crash tests for the new car - even if the team has yet to take and pass the official FIA tests, as it eyes a mid-February roll-out.

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