Lotus will return to Formula 1 in 2010 after the FIA awarded the 13th slot on the grid, made available by BMW’s withdrawal from the sport, to the team.

Lotus will be backed by the Malaysian Proton company that now owns it. The team will reportedly be based at a purpose-built facility at the Sepang Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, with a base at the RTN factory in Norfolk for race operations.

The team will be headed by Tony Fernandes, founder and CEO of the Malaysian-based Tune Group, owner of the Air Asia airline. Mike Gascoyne, who was the technical director of Force India till late 2008, will head the team’s technical operations.

Lotus has seven world titles to its name, and was last seen on the F1 grid in 1994.

The FIA has also announced that it is in urgent talks with all the existing teams in order to expand the 2010 grid to 28 cars. This was decided after BMW Sauber announced that it had secured its future in F1 under new ownership.