FORMULA 1 NEWCOMER Lotus has announced the signings of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli as its inaugural driver pairing for the 2010 season.
Trulli and Kovalainen were presented to the public at a press conference in Kuala Kumpur, with Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy announced as test and reserve driver.
Lotus F1 Racing team principal Tony Fernandes said the decision to sign Kovalainen and Trulli reflected the outfit?s ambition to opt for a mixture of youth and experience.
"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," he said.
"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."
With the team still to complete its first F1 racer, Fernandes said he was somewhat surprised to have been able to lure race winning drivers to Lotus.
"I am still pinching myself. 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," he said.
"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.?
After Toyota's withdrawal from F1, Trulli's move to Lotus will extend a career which seemed possibly on the down slope, while for Kovalainen, it will provide an opportunity to re-establish himself after a testing period with McLaren.
In other driver market news, Nick Heidfeld has admitted his F1 future is intrinsically linked with the comeback of Michael Schumacher.
Heidfeld was favourite to snare the second drive at Mercedes Grand Prix until Schumacher's emergence as an unlikely contender, placing the German's career on a precipice.
"It is my plan for the future and my objective to once again enjoy success with Mercedes. For this reason, I have already turned down concrete opportunities and we are continuing to give other possibilities a lesser priority," he told German press agency DPA.
If Heidfeld misses out on the Mercedes drive, the 169 Grand Prix veteran is expected to join Sauber.