Instead, the Lotus T128 will enjoy track action in the hands of Davide Valsecchi and Luiz Razia, two of Team Lotus' reserve drivers this season.
Valsecchi seems to have made quite an impression on Fernandes and technical chief Mike Gascoyne during last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, when he replaced Kovalainen in the T128's cockpit during Friday's FP1 (he ranked 21st in the timing reports). Razia, on the other hand, will be making his very debut on Lotus' 2011 single-seater this year.
“It's a great opportunity,” said the Brazilian driver in a recent interview with Agencia Estado, while also revealing that Team Lotus will bring some new updates to the car in Shanghai. “I will do the first practice with two sets of tires and one or two new items brought straight from the factory.”
The two drivers are not the only ones in Team Lotus' test & reserve driver scheme this year, as they are joined by former HRT regular Karun Chandhok and Ricardo Teixeira. Chandhok has actually made his debut at the wheel of the T128 this season in the season opening Australian Grand Prix, becoming the first driver to exit the pits in the 2011 season of Formula 1.
His experience driving the car was probably the shortest in the history of the series however, as the Indian lost control of the T128 in the very first corner after the pit exit and crashed into the tire barriers, damaging the car beyond sudden repair. He then sat in his team's garage throughout the remaining 90 minutes of action that day.