Aaro Vainio - Photo Credit: Drew Gibson/GP3 Media Service

Vainio behind the wheel for his new team at Valencia last November - Photo Credit: Drew Gibson/GP3 Media Service

Lotus GP have confirmed that Finnish driver Aaro Vainio will be part of their GP3 lineup in 2012.

Vainio raced for Tech 1 Racing during his rookie GP3 campaign in 2011. He is managed by Nicolas Todt, co-owner of the ART Grand Prix outfit that has been renamed to Lotus for this season. He tested for the French team at the end of last year and it had been expected that he would race for them in 2012.

Hailing from Espoo in Finland just like Kimi Raikkonen, Vainio was a superstar in karting, where he was European champion in 2008 and 2009 in the KF3 and KF1 categories respectively. In 2010 he stepped up to cars and finished fourth in the Formula Renault Eurocup. In 2011 he stepped on the podium in just his third GP3 race, at Barcelona. He went onto score two further points finishes.

The 18-year-old joins Daniel Abt in the lineup at Lotus GP, who as ART won the drivers' and teams' titles in both previous seasons of GP3.

“I’m really excited and pleased to have this opportunity to drive with Lotus GP,” said Vainio. “This year I will have everything I need to succeed. Equipment and experience are the main keys.

“Lotus GP is for sure the best team on the field, looking at their fantastic achievements of the past two years, since they are undefeated in the GP3 series. I will do a lot of work and give the team my best so we can achieve great results. I look forward to starting the pre-season testing and to working with the team.”

Team boss Frederic Vasseur said: “Aaro's first season in the GP3 Series was not always filled with success, but he never lost his focus due to adversity and he showed strong performances on various occasions.

“Lotus GP confirmed his great potential during the three days of tests held at three different circuits, and we are confident that Aaro will be able to express himself in 2012 so that he is consistently at the front.”