F1: GP2 champ Jolyon Palmer becomes third/reserve driver at Lotus

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Following his first Formula One test last November, GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer expressed hope of finding, if not a race seat, then a reserve role with an F1 team in 2015.

As of this morning, that’s mission accomplished for the young British driver.

On Palmer’s 24th birthday, Lotus has announced that he’ll become theiir third/reserve driver behind Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado for this upcoming season.

“My main aim is to race in Formula 1, so I’ll be working as hard as I can on every aspect of my new job,” he told Lotus’ official website. “Working as a third driver is the next best thing to being a race driver. I’ll be working with the engineers throughout the season whether I’m in the car or not.

“There is a lot to learn and I’ll be working to make a valuable contribution to the E23’s development. Every time I’m in the car, I’ll try to give my very best. It’s not just being quick, but also working with the engineers and the team as well.”

Palmer is expected to drive in a ‘significant number’ of Friday practice sessions, conduct test and development work, and accompany the team to all races.

While he admits to being “a bit sad” that he won’t be actually competing on the track, he says he understands.

“It’s certainly a change and something different…Racing is my favorite part of being a driver, obviously, but I have to look at the bigger picture,” he explained.

“With no race seats available this year, I will still be driving a Formula 1 car, I’ll be part of a prestigious team, one that will move forward, and my goal is to have a year out of racing now, working to be back racing in Formula 1, in 2016.”

Palmer earned four wins and 12 podium finishes last season en route to his GP2 championship.

In a separate release, Lotus president and team principal Gerard Lopez says he’s looking forward to having Palmer make contributions in Enstone.

“Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfill the role of third driver at Lotus F1 Team,” Lopez said. “Romain and Pastor are both GP2 Series champions, so we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides.

“For Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future.”