London: The new Malaysian-backed Lotus Formula One team has signed its first driver, principal Tony Fernandes said on Saturday without giving any name.
"One Malaysia Formula One team aka Lotus has signed its first driver," the aviation entrepreneur announced on his Twitter feed.
"Public announcement soon. The dream continues," he added.
Italian Jarno Trulli, who drove for now-departed Toyota this year, has been linked in media speculation to the new team whose technical head is former Toyota technical director Mike Gascoyne.
Malaysian Fairuz Fauzy is also expected to take on the reserve driver role.
Lotus are one of five new teams due to make their debuts in 2010, with Toyota and BMW bowing out.
Malaysia's Bernama news agency earlier quoted the team saying it had successfully completed its own private side impact and nose box crash tests for the new car.
The report said the car's nose crumpled on impact but the vertical line which must remain intact after impact remained unscathed.
Lotus still have to pass the official crash tests from Formula One's world-governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA).
Under the FIA's strict rules on safety, all cars must comply with mandatory crash tests before being allowed to compete in Formula One.
The Lotus team was launched in September as a collaboration between the Malaysian government, who hold no equity in the team, and a trio of entrepreneurs.
Lotus are aiming for a roll out of the new car in mid-February to test it before the season opener in Bahrain in March.
First Published: Sunday, November 15, 2009, 10:33