BREAKING: Palmer joins Formula 1 team Lotus

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Southwater’s Jolyon Palmer has joined Lotus as their reserve driver for the upcoming Formula 1 2015 season.

The reigning GP2 champion has bagged a seat with the team as back-up driver to Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado.

Palmer, who last year became the first British driver to win the GP2 crown since Lewis Hamilton, had his sights set on a place in F1 this year after successful test with Sahara Force India in November.

The driver, who turned 24 today (Tuesday), will attend all Grand Prix races and F1 tests with Lotus throughout the 2015 season, will drive in a significant number of Free Practice 1 sessions, and contribute to the car’s testing and development during the season.

Palmer said: “I’m delighted to be moving into F1 with Lotus F1 Team this year as Third Driver and I’m very grateful for the opportunity they have given me.

“My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus F1 Team is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now.

“To be able to learn with a major F1 team by working closely with them in every area and getting a lot of mileage in the car is the best way possible, as Valtteri Bottas proved.

“I am delighted to be joining Lotus F1 Team at such an exciting time and my objective is to earn a long-term future with them.”

Palmer won the GP2 title with a record-breaking points haul, beating Felipe Nasr by over 50 points in 2014, but it is the Brazilian who will race for Sauber this season, while Raffaele Marciello, who was over 200 points behind the Briton, has been appointed Ferrari’s reserve driver.

The local driver’s new teammates Grosjean and Maldonado, are both also former GP2 Champions.

Chairman and team principal at Lotus F1 Gerard Lopez said: “Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of Third Driver at Lotus F1 Team.

“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.

“We are looking forward to seeing him in team colours and behind the wheel of our 2015 car, the E23 Hybrid, which represents an exciting new era for Lotus F1 Team.”