Romain Grosjean is not being marketed by Lotus as the latest substitute for injured team regular Robert Kubica.
Pole Kubica's contract runs out in less than three weeks and, if he returns to Formula One, he is being more strongly linked with Ferrari.
"The idea with Grosjean is to make him the number one (in Formula One) in two or three years," team boss Eric Boullier, who has also signed up 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen for 2012 and beyond, is quoted in the French press.
The Swiss-born Frenchman Grosjean, 25, agrees that he is no stop-gap solution for Lotus.
"I can't wait to be there (in Australia in March), realising that I am in F1 for the whole season," he told La Figaro newspaper.
"So it is even more extraordinary than the first time."
He is referring, of course, to 2009 when - under Flavio Briatore's management - he made his ill-fated debut at Renault alongside Fernando Alonso.
"There has been an evolution of maturity," said Grosjean. "I think I needed a slap to make me bounce back. Everything had gone too well and now I understand it's not like that.
With another approach, the pleasure outweighs the pressure or the stress
"With another approach, the pleasure outweighs the pressure or the stress."
As in 2009, he said he is happy to be racing alongside another world champion.
"I'm getting used to it -- two chances in F1, two world champions," he laughs. I think there will be plenty to learn from Kimi and I think that after ten laps it will be forgotten that he has not driven for two years."