Lotus chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has confirmed World Series by Renault runner-up Fairuz Fauzy for a role next season - and expects him to graduate to a full seat.
Despite being based in Norfolk for now, Lotus has predominantly Malaysian support in the shape of the Tune Group and an acting team principal from the Far Eastern country in AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes.
Fernandes has made little secret of his desire to one day put a home-grown driver on the grand prix grid, and former GP2 Series contender Fauzy fits the bill.
However Gascoyne played down speculation that the driver is in line for a grid spot in 2010, with Toyota refugee Jarno Trulli and another experienced campaigner such as former world champion Jacques Villeneuve expected to turn out for the legendary team of yesteryear.
"Fairuz will be in the team, probably as a reserve driver or a test driver," Gascoyne - making a return to F1 following a year off after parting ways with Force India - told Malaysian newspaper The Star.
"He's got the talent, but we don't want him to 'crash and burn' in the race because of his inexperience."
Gascoyne compared the situation to that experienced by Fernando Alonso, who moved up from testing duties to win World Championships with Renault.
"Take Alonso, for example," he said. "He was signed as a test driver at Renault but didn't get a race seat until after three years, then went on to win trophies.
"That's exactly what we want with Fairuz - for him to have enough experience - because racing in Formula One is a much higher level than he's used to.
"If you ask any young driver if they're ready for F1, their answer will always be 'yes' but, at the end of the day, it's the experience that matters."