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Jolyon Palmer to get F1 free practice running with Lotus in 2015

Reigning GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer will take part in some Formula 1 free practice sessions this year after signing to become a reserve driver for the Lotus team

The Enstone-based squad has appointed the Brit - who turned 24 today (Tuesday) - as its third driver for the 2015 F1 season and promised him a "significant number" of practice session outings on grand prix weekends, according to a statement.

Palmer, who last year became the first British driver to win the GP2 crown since Lewis Hamilton, said he hoped to use his opportunity with Lotus as a springboard to a race seat in 2016.

"My goal has been to become a race driver in a competitive F1 team for 2016 and Lotus is a great opportunity for me, particularly with Mercedes engines now," said Palmer, who tested F1 machinery for the first time with Force India at last November's post-season Abu Dhabi test.

"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 [at Williams].

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

"I'm a bit sad that I won't be competing, as racing is my favourite part of being a driver, but I have to look at the bigger picture.

"With no race seats available this year, I will still be driving a Formula 1 car, I'll be part of a prestigious team, one that will move forward."

Team owner Gerard Lopez said Palmer's title-winning pedigree in GP2 would make him the perfect foil for race drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado, as Lotus seeks to bounce back from a disastrous 2014 campaign.

"Jolyon is a fantastic talent and a very credible driver to fulfil the role of third driver at Lotus," Lopez said.

"Having worked with Romain, the 2011 GP2 champion, we know what a fantastic proving ground GP2 provides, so for Jolyon to have enjoyed such a successful season as he took his title last year shows his superb potential for the future.

"We hope to give him as much running as we can, as we enter an exciting new era."

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