Lotus clearly believe they have lots to do in developing their 2015 E23.
The Enstone team have announced Hong Kong born Adderly Fong will join Carmen Jorda as their second development driver and recently the plight of Suzie Wolff has focused many F1 fans minds on what exactly this title means.
Pat Symonds made it clear when Valtteri Bottas was unfit to race in Australia that Wolff was merely a development and test driver – not a reserve driver.
So development drivers don’t get to race even should one of the race drivers become unable to drive in a GP or qualifying. These drivers often bring a level of finance to the team and in return are awarded an agreed number of FP1 sessions during the season.
Test and development drivers tend to perform a lot of simulator based work in in order to benchmark developments being considered for the real car. They can also be utilised to entertain sponsors and VIP guests, though Fong’s racing schedule may see him less of a gopher than was GP2 series winner and ex-Lotus test and reserve driver, Davide Valsecchi.
Adderly Fong was a late starter, beginning his racing career aged 14. Last October, Fong completed an F1 test with Sauber where he clocked up 99 laps at the circuit in Valencia driving a two-year-old C31.
This year, Fong will combine his Lotus F1 Team duties with competing in the GP3 Series and GT Asia seasons.
Matthew Carter, CEO, Lotus F1 Team: “It’s great to have Adderly join the team. We have an aggressive development programme with the E23 so he will be able to both learn from our engineers and race drivers as well as contribute to our car through the course of the season. We have a very strong driver line-up which Adderly will join so he has a great opportunity to learn ahead of him. We are committed to moving back up the competitive order and Adderly’s work behind the scenes will be invaluable in assisting us to achieve this.”
A naturally delighted Adderly Fong had this to say. “This is a great opportunity to further my racing career; I’ll be able to learn how an F1 team operates during race weekends as an integral part of the team and these invaluable experiences are going to lay the foundations of my future development as an F1 driver. I am happy but I am not going to get carried away, for this is only the first of many steps. I aim to become the first Chinese driver to compete in a Formula 1 Grand Prix which will assist to promote the sport in China and also in Hong Kong. There is great potential for me with Lotus F1 Team so I can’t wait to get under way in my new role.”
Despite the rhetoric, given Lotus track record, Fong will get nowhere near a race seat for the team. When Kimi Raikkonen bailed out of the team in 2013, Lotus did not turn to one of their ‘in house’ divers to replace him. Instead they recruited an unemployed and past it Heikki Kovalainen, who managed two 14th place finishes failing to score any points for the team.