Lotus has announced Jolyon Palmer will step up to a race drive for the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship alongside Pastor Maldonado.
The 2014 GP2 Series champion – son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer – joined Lotus at the start of 2015 as its reserve driver, driving the E23 in testing and a number of FP1 sessions over the course of the year.
Promoted to a race drive for 2016 in place of the Haas-bound Romain Grosjean, Palmer is thrilled to have impressed the team enough to secure a full-time berth next season.
“I'm obviously delighted that I'll be racing in Formula 1 next year,” he said. “Lotus F1 Team gave me a tremendous opportunity this season and I thank them for assisting my development to a level where they have put their trust in me for a crucial season in their evolution.
“I've enjoyed and learnt a lot from my year as Third and Reserve driver so I'm looking forward to putting this into practice as a race driver in 2016. I can't wait for next season to get underway!”
Describing Palmer as a 'popular choice' for the team, the 24 year-old becomes the latest GP2 champion to progress to F1, following in the footsteps of Grosjean, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg and his new team-mate Maldonado.
“We are very pleased to announce that exciting British racing talent Jolyon Palmer is promoted to a race seat with the team for next season,” said Lotus F1 chairman Gerard Lopez. “We've seen Jolyon's hard work and talent this season in the way he's approached his third driver role and he is a really popular choice for the team.
“As well as having a great future ahead of him behind the wheel, Jolyon is an intelligent and highly marketable asset to the team. He deserves this opportunity, and everyone at Enstone is excited to see what he can achieve next year.”
Despite this announcement, it remains unclear whether Lotus will race in its current guise next year or whether it much discussed buy-out by Renault goes through. As it stands, Renault has signalled an 'intention' to buy Lotus, but it yet to formally reveal its future plans.