In early 2011, Tony Fernandes' team confirmed no less than 3 reserve driver for the upcoming campaign, two of which are currently racing for Team AirAsia in the GP2 Series: Valsecchi and his Portuguese teammate Luis Razia. Joining those two is Portuguese-born Angolan Ricardo Teixeira, while Karun Chandhok's status within Team Lotus is yet to be confirmed.
Having already confirmed in a press statement that Valsecchi and Razia “will be taking part in a number of Friday practice sessions at selected 2011 grands prix,” the team now let slip the information according to which the former will get to drive the T128 in Australia and Malaysia, the first two rounds of the 2011 season.
The news was reported by Italian publication Autosprint, who quoted Valsecchi as saying that he looks forward to making his first ever appearance on the Albert Park venue.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” he said, according to the aforementioned source. “Melbourne will be difficult for someone who has not even seen that track, but Sepang is a good opportunity,” he added.
Needless to say, both Valsecchi and Razia will be aiming for a race seat in 2012 and will try to impress the team officials as much as they can this year, through their Friday running, in order to secure such a position next year. Recent examples of drivers who built their careers from Friday running are reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Renault's Robert Kubica, as well as Force India's Adrian Sutil, who has just stepped into F1 after being a reserve for the entire 2010 season.