Heikki Kovalainen has given the strongest sign yet that he is staying at Lotus for 2011.

The Malaysian team is yet to confirm its driver lineup for next year, but it is expected that Finn Kovalainen and fellow grand prix winner Jarno Trulli are staying put.

Kovalainen told Finland's Turun Sanomat that he is expecting the new outfit to take a major step forward in 2011: "That's why I chose this team," said the former Renault and McLaren driver.

"It was a risk at the time to go with an entirely new team, but I'm happy with the choice that I made and what we achieved this season," added the 29-year-old.

Lotus Racing, likely to field an entirely new name for 2011, will be powered by a Renault engine fitted to a Red Bull gearbox next season.

"Expectations are high," admitted Kovalainen. "It would be a disappointment if we did not make a step forward."

The team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne confirmed that Lotus is happy with Kovalainen.

"We always had confidence in Heikki and he delivered for us what we expected from him," he said.

"He performed well and he's also a nice guy, making it very enjoyable for the team to work with him," added Gascoyne.

Gallery: Kovalainen confirms staying at Lotus in 2011

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