Good news for Britain’s Jolyon Palmer, who has been named as the Lotus Formula 1 team reserve driver for 2015. He replaces Charles Pic. The deal will not be a freebie, but one presumes that young Palmer will be getting lots of simulator time and a decent number of Friday morning sessions, plus some space on the car got his sponsors. It is good news for GP2 as it means that the series becomes a little bit more relevant after several seasons when the champion went nowhere.
The 24-year-old, son of former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer, was the first British GP2 Champion since Lewis Hamilton.
It will also give Palmer a springboard to raise money for a drive on 2016, when both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado may move on. Logically, with Mercedes engines the team should move up the pecking order in 2015, and there is talk that we could see a complete rebranding and possibly renaming of the team. The organisation has no financial input from Lotus Cars and it would probably be better to find a new brand to build, or to start Enstone Racing. The Lotus name does open doors with sponsors but performance is really all that matters and if Enstone Racing (or whatever) does well enough, doors will open.
The teams ownership situation remains clouded with Gérard Lopez and Eric Lux still nominally in charge although property magnate Andy Ruhan is in effective control having loaned the team money and not been paid back. Ruhan put his man Matt Carter in last year and the team is now being run in a more sensible manner and confidence is returning. The team has also been able to pick up a lot of staff who were with Caterham and Marussia, a number of them being ex- Lotus folk who got out when things turned bad at Enstone. Ruhan flies well below the radar, leaving Lopez to enjoy the spotlight, but it is unlikely that this arrangement will last forever.