Former F1 champion will race for Citroen at the World Rally Championships.
|Reserve driver Fauzy, Kovalainen and Trulli are unveiled in Kuala Lumpur [AFP]|
New Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen warned that the brand’s return to Formula One would “not be easy” after the Finn was unveiled alongside Jarno Trulli by the Malaysian-backed team.
Kovalainen was ousted from McLaren by current world champion Jenson Button after playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton for two seasons.
Italian Trulli, meanwhile, was left without a team after Toyota’s exit from the sport last month.
Both have a single Grand Prix win to their names, but will be seen as solid drivers to have on board as Lotus make their return to the grid for the first time since 1994.
Lotus boss Tony Fernandes, the airline mogul backing the team, said in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that Trulli, 35, and 28-year-old Kovalainen had signed three-year-contracts.
“We have to be realistic and keep the focus on developing the team to a state where we can operate like any other current top F1 team,” Kovalainen said in a statement.
“(It) will not be easy and we will have tough times at the beginning.”
He said that he signed up because he believes Lotus “has a lot of potential and a very good chance of being a successful team in the future.”
Trulli, a former racer for Jordan and Renault, said: “I have been in Formula One for many years but there’s something extremely motivating about helping to build the team from the ground level up.”
Malaysian Sports Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the signing was “another milestone” for Lotus, which will be one of five new teams next season.
Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy will be the reserve driver.
The other five new teams for 2010 are USF1, Campos, Sauber and Manor, which will compete as Virgin Racing.
Trulli has competed in 216 races since his debut for Minardi in 1997. The Italian’s lone victory came at the Canadian Grand Prix in 2004.
He finished on the podium three times last season, scoring 32.5 points to finish eighth in the drivers’ championship, having spent just over four seasons with Toyota.
Kovalainen began his F1 career in 2007 with Renault before switching to McLaren in 2008. His only win came at the 2008 Hungarian GP.