Lotus F1 boss Tony Fernandes admits he can't believe that the F1 newcomers have managed to secure the services of two former race winners for its debut season.
The team has now confirmed that Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen will form its driver line-up for 2010, with the pair having been left looking for drives after leaving Toyota and McLaren respectively at the end of the 2009 campaign.
It gives the newcomers an experienced pairing with which to enter the sport and Fernandes admitted it had been a huge achievement to bring in the Italian and the Finn considering that the team doesn't yet even have a completed race car.
“I am still pinching myself,” he said. “We have not even finished our first race car, so to attract two race winning drivers to the team is a huge achievement and honour. I think it is a testament to our ambition and our long-term vision that we have such talent on our books in year one. It is further proof that we are serious about what we do and I am sure the other new teams are looking at us with some envy right now.
“We have three drivers who I believe complement each other excellently and who I think represent what Lotus F1 Racing and 1Malaysia is all about. That is not to say it was a straight-forward decision because we spoke with other drivers who I rate very highly, but ultimately we have opted for a careful mix of experience, youth and ambition.
“In Jarno we have the F1 veteran who proved in 2009 that he is as quick and determined as ever. In Heikki we have a continuing rising star who is still hungry to prove himself, and in Fairuz we have a Malaysian national driver who is eager to progress up the F1 ladder to fulfil the hopes of a nation. It's the full package if you ask me.”
Fernandes added that the experience brought to the team by both Trulli and Kovalainen would be invaluable in 2010 and said he was confident the pair would help the team make progress next year.
“2010 will be the first season for Lotus F1 Racing and we have a lot to achieve in a short space of time,” he said. “As with any new venture, it is a case of 'all hands on deck'. Everybody has a vital role to play but it is about bringing a new team together and gelling. The drivers each bring different experience to the team and I think the combination of their skills will help us quickly establish ourselves as the ones to watch in 2010 and beyond.”