As expected, Lotus has named a trio of young talents for the forthcoming three-day test at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
As rumoured earlier in the week, DTM ace – and former double Macau F3 Grand Prix winner – Edoardo Mortara will join new GP2 Series champion Davide Valsecchi and sportscar star Nicolas Prost behind the wheel of the current E20 as the final six teams complete their young driver assessment in the days following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The remaining six teams all ran earlier in the year, at either Silverstone or Magny-Cours.
While Valsecchi was expected to get a run-out thanks to his success in the Renault-powered feeder series this season, Mortara's inclusion in the line-up comes as something of a surprise considering that he was forced to turn his back on single-seaters when a lack of funding was trumped by the opportunity to join Audi's DTM attack – a career change that has brought further success, and fifth place in this year's championship standings.
Swiss-born, dual French and Italian nationality holding Edoardo Mortara is the only driver to have won the Macau Grand Prix twice, in a racing career which has included taking the Formula Three Euroseries title in 2010. He has just finished in fifth position in the 2012 DTM championship standings.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for me to join Lotus and especially to be driving the E20 on track in Abu Dhabi,” the Swiss-born dual national commented, “I can't wait to be in action and working with a team which is performing so well this season and has such good prospects for the future. Contributing to the team's programme is likely to be highly rewarding; I'm eager to learn from the experience and highlight my potential.”
Valsecchi will be returning to the cockpit of an F1 car for the first time since clinching the GP2 crown, but has previous experience from outings with the HRT and Caterham teams in their previous guises as Hispania and Team Lotus.
“For me, this is a great honour, as I am eager to showcase my talents and demonstrate that I am ready to take the next step in my career after winning the GP2 Series,” the Italian noted, “Lotus F1 is a great team with a superb group of engineers, so it's great to be getting out on track with them in Abu Dhabi.”
Prost, meanwhile, is already well known to the Enstone-based squad, having been used as part of its development programme while focusing his career on endurance racing.
“I'm really looking forward to driving at a test in this year's car, which we have all seen to be strong at so many grands prix this year,” the son of four-time F1 champion Alain Prost admitted, “It's a great honour for me as a driver and I want to do the very best job I can to assist the team with development, as well as giving good feedback for any future projects.”
The Frenchman will kick things off on the opening day of the test on Tuesday 6 November, before Mortara and Valsecchi follow. Team principal Eric Boullier admits that he is excited by the prospect of seeing three young talents in action.
“I think we have a great line-up of drivers to work with the team in Abu Dhabi and it will be very interesting for us to see how they stack-up; especially as we will have all the data from the grand prix which takes place the week before,” he explained, “Nicolas we know well from his existing work with the team, while Edoardo and Davide are new to us, so it should be a productive three days; not just for the drivers, but also the team as we evaluate new parts on the car for our final push at the last two races of the season.”