James Calado will step up to the GP2 Series with Lotus ART in 2012, the French squad has announced.
The British driver, supported by the Racing Steps Foundation, competed for the team in GP3 in 2011 and finished runner-up to teammate Valtteri Bottas.
After testing the team's GP2 car at Jerez and Barcelona in recent weeks, Calado will make his race debut at the forthcoming GP2 Final at Abu Dhabi on 12/13 November in support of the Grand Prix.
He will join Esteban Gutierrez in the team, the Mexican having already been confirmed for his sophomore GP2 campaign with the team.
“This is excellent news because it allows me to climb up an additional level very early in the season and I will then have the time to prepare myself for the challenge of the GP2 Series,” said Calado. “I could not dream of a better team to meet this challenge with.
“Lotus ART’s tremendous expertise and approach have no equal and with Lotus ART I know that I have everything I need to integrate myself quickly and well into this extremely competitive championship. Lotus ART and I have demonstrated what we can do in the GP3 Series and I hope that we will do the same in the GP2 Series. I am again grateful to the RSF for supporting me in my next step up.”
ART's Frederic Vasseur said: “James' performances in his first year in the GP3 Series were a key reason for continuing our collaboration in the GP2 Series.
“James impressed Lotus ART with his professional approach and his ability to face every race situation: safety car, changing track conditions, starting from the back of the grid, he was spared nothing and James always rose to the task with a remarkable state of mind and performances which enabled him to compete for the title down to the last race. I believe that James has the potential to pull the team to the top and to win races in 2012.”
Racing Steps founder Graham Sharp commented: “James' progress since he became a part of the Foundation has been really impressive. Each season he has raised his game to meet the new challenges of new formulae with maturity, dedication and professionalism as a result of which he's more than earned the Foundation's backing for a Lotus ART GP2 seat.”