Malaysia's only Formula One driver will return to the top flight when the 'second-generation' Lotus team hits the tracks in 2010, following another raft of appointments.
Alex Yoong, who made 14 starts with former F1 stalwart Minardi over the 2001-02 seasons, has been appointed as the new-look Lotus F1 Racing's head of its young driver development in Asia.
newspaper confirmed the appointment over the weekend, also revealing that Mia Sharizman Ismail would take up the role of head of operations and Nino Judge the parallel role of driver development chief in Europe. Judge previously headed up the Litespeed F3 team that lodged the initial application to return the Lotus name to F1, and has made a point of offering young talent that chance to race in the UK F3 series over the past two seasons.
Yoong has contented himself with racing in categories such as A1GP since his F1 career ended without a point to his name, but was widely expected to link up with the Lotus operation once it revealed that it would seek to base itself at Sepang. The team is currently operating out of a British base at Hingham in Norfolk, but should relocate at some point in its debut season. The debate over A1GP's future has also led to speculation that the Team Malaysia operation could link up with the F1 project at some point in the future.
“The driver development scheme will play a crucial role in finding and developing future Malaysian racing drivers,” CEO Riad Asmat claimed, “What we want to achieve is to develop talents here and give them enough support so that they can grow from go-kart drivers to F1 drivers one day.”
Fairuz Fauzy, Yoong's team-mate at Team Malaysia, is tipped to find a berth at the new team, but is not expected to be more than a test and reserve driver in 2010.