Nelson Panciatici has signed to drive for the Lotus Racing Junior outfit in this season's World Series by Renault campaign, and admits that the squad's grand prix links made the deal all the more enticing.
The 21-year old French driver, who finished as runner-up in Spanish F3 in 2008 and competed in both GP2 and Superleague Formula last season, appeared at the launch of Lotus F1's new T127 at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London on Friday afternoon, but has only now been confirmed as signing for the former Mofaz Racing team.
The junior squad, which had been widely expected to confirm owner/driver - and Lotus F1 reserve - Fairuz Fauzy in its other seat, will enjoy close links with the Hingham-based grand prix squad, something Pantiatici admits was a huge attraction in joining the team.
“Joining the Lotus Racing Junior outfit is a huge opportunity for me and offers me the chance to enjoy the benefits of the direct link with the F1 team,” he said, “To be racing for a team that carries the famous Lotus name gives a little added pressure, but that isn't a problem for me because I have learned to manage pressure and turn it into a positive since the age of ten, when I started my career in karting.
“I am very aware of the glorious heritage and history of Lotus in motorsport and it is a huge honour for me to be involved with this team. I will do my best to maximise this opportunity and get everything I can from it.”
Despite appearing to struggle on his graduation to GP2 in 2009, when he failed to complete the whole season with Durango, Lotus Jr technical director Alex Somerset has high regard for his new charge.
“We watched Nelson at both the Aragon and Barcelona tests, and he demonstrated his abilities," Somerset claimed, "He fits our bill of having one experienced driver and one rookie. We look forward to working with him and are confident that, along with Russian Daniil Move, he will help us finish in the top three in the teams' championship. We are also of the belief that Nelson certainly has the ability to finish in the top three in the drivers' championship.”
Panciatici will be supported by luxury watch maker Ange Barde in 2010.