London: Karun Chandhok will return to Formula One this season as reserve driver with Team Lotus, both sides announced on Tuesday.
“I’ve been talking to the team for quite a while about a role with them and I’m delighted we’re now able to confirm that I will be driving for Team Lotus in 2011,” Chandhok said in a statement.
Chandhok, who raced for HRT last year, had appeared to have run out of options earlier this month when the team named Luiz Razia as their third driver and said the Brazilian would take part in some practice sessions.
The team said on Tuesday, however, that Chandhok would be taking part in Friday practice at the Australian season-opener this week, while Razia would remain as third driver.
Italian Jarno Trulli and Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen are the race drivers.
Team Lotus, who have yet to score a point in Formula One after a debut last year as Lotus Racing, also have Italian Davide Valsecchi and Portuguese-born Angolan Ricardo Teixeira as test drivers.
Friday will be the first time Chandhok has driven the Lotus, despite having attended a couple of pre-season tests with the Malaysian-owned team in Spain.
His appointment also means he stands a good chance of taking part in Friday practice in the first Indian grand prix later this year.
“His technical input and obvious talent will provide the team with more valuable insights into how to optimise the T128’s performance potential on-track, alongside his ambassadorial role for the team as one of its official drivers,” Team Lotus added.
Team boss Tony Fernandes went further in adding that Chandhok represented “the future of motor racing”.
“He is living proof that geography is no boundary to talent and ambition and that you will succeed if you work hard and keep dreaming,” he said.