Team AirAsia drivers Luiz Razia and Davide Valsecchi were today confirmed as having official new roles with the outfit's F1 parent, Team Lotus, alongside their already-confirmed season-long stints in the GP2 Main Series.

Razia has been awarded the "third driver" position and will be the official stand-in should either of Lotus' two main drivers, Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, be unavailable for any reason, while Valsecchi meanwhile has been appointed the official F1 team test driver and like Razia will get to run in the Lotus car during Friday practice sessions at the Grand Prixs.

"We are very pleased to have confirmed that Luiz, Davide and Ricardo [Teixeira, the long-standing second test driver] will all be extending their relationships with the Team Lotus family," said Team Lotus CEO Riad Asmat.

Meanwhile, Rapax's second driver Julian Leal learned today that his GP2 Asia series-only deal has been picked up and converted into a full season contract for the GP2 Main Series as well, alongside his senior team mate Fabio Leimer.

"Before entering the GP2 Asia Series, I hadn't decided to continue in the championship and enter the GP2 Main Series," confessed the 20-year-old Colombian. "The first contact with the team proved key in my decision, as I fell in love with the car at the first testing occasion we had last November. I found out that it's a complete and valuable race car that provides a great stepping stone for F1.

"I experienced a great relationship with the Rapax team since the first moment. I'm sure that the team's technical staff and personnel will be able to help me grow up and achieve some valuable results. At Abu Dhabi I also established a great connection with my team-mate Fabio Leimer, and I feel that we will have chances to do great things together."

The team's managing director, Andrea Bergamini, confirmed that they were "extremely happy to continue in the collaboration," nothing that Leal's "approach to the first round of the season at Abu Dhabi proved extremely professional, despite some unfortunate coincidences preventing him from scoring some well-deserved top-notch results.

"We're proud to contribute to his growth, and at the same time we're extremely pleased to have two young and talented drivers with us."

With the political unrest in Bahrain having led to the cancellation of two of GP2 Asia's three race weekends and seemingly limiting Leal's participation to just the one outing at Abu Dhabi, the new deal means that he will not only get an outing at the historic Imola circuit next week in GP2 Asia's replacement event, but will also have nine weekends with Rapax at the European Grand Prix events from May through to September.



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