If rumours are to be taken seriously, Team Lotus could be running up to four reserve drivers during the 2011 season.
Already seemingly confirmed are GP2 drivers Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia, who have recently been signed to the team’s GP2 team, branded under team boss Tony Fernandes’ AirAsia banner.
And Karun Chandhok has also emerged as a contender for a third spot with the Hingham-based outfit, after being photographed in Lotus apparel during the first pre-season test at Valencia. It is confirmed that he will have a trial run with the team at the next test session in Jerez.
Reports are now suggesting that a fourth candidate may emerge in the form of Portuguese-born Angolan driver Ricardo Teixeira, who has raced in GP2 and Formula 2.
For those of you not geographically inclined, Angola is an oil-rich country in south-west Africa, and Teixeira has enjoyed the considerable backing of its state-owned oil company, Sonangol.
The 26-year-old started open-wheel racing in 2001 in the Formula BMW Junior Cup before moving to British Formula 3 for four years, peaking with a best championship finish of seventh in 2006.
He was signed by the Trident Racing team to compete in the 2008-9 GP2 Asia Series – becoming the first Angolan to compete at this level of motorsport – and stayed with the team into the 2009 GP2 Series season.
Unfortunately, he earned the rather ignominious statistic of becoming the first GP2 driver to fail to qualify for an event since 2007, posting a qualifying time outside the 107% cut-off at Monaco – he failed to earn a championship point that season.
He jumped to the FIA Formula 2 championship in 2010, finishing fifth in his third race at Marrakech, but was involved in a spectacular aerial accident in the next race when he collided with another competitor under braking for a chicane.
The cause for the latest rumours – in spite of the evidence indicating a lack of considerable results in the feeder series in which he has competed – was that Teixeira spent some time driving Team Lotus’ new T128 car at Valencia for promotional filming purposes.
“I am really pleased I could help out with the filming (of the car) and after my first taste of an F1 car I can’t wait to have another go,” he said after the outing.
The team’s technical boss said that Teixeira “acquitted himself well and that was exactly what we needed him to do.”