The Virgin team have announced that Belgian driver Jerome D’Ambrosio will partner Timo Glock in their race line-up for the 2011 Formula One season.
Last month, 25 year-old D’Ambrosio successfully concluded an evaluation role with Virgin, taking part in Friday practice sessions at the Singapore, Japanese, Korean and Brazilian Grands Prix. In addition, he conducted a further half-day programme at the wheel of the team’s VR-01 car during last month’s Abu Dhabi young driver test.
“I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing,” said D’Ambrosio, who served as the Renault team’s test and reserve driver in 2010. “When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for.
“I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat, but at the same time I got on well with the team and felt that I had found my home. I feel very comfortable with them - they are extremely professional and ambitious people and it is exciting to think that I can be a part of shaping the team’s future.”
D’Ambrosio, who replaces Brazilian Lucas di Grassi at Virgin, has spent the last four seasons competing in the GP2 Series, prior to which he raced in the GP2 Asia Series, International Formula Master, the F3000 Euroseries and Formula Renault.
“Jerome had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat,” explained Virgin team principal John Booth. “We had followed his progress in GP2 closely and it was clear he was ‘one to watch’, but when we put him in the car for the four race weekends and the Abu Dhabi test he surpassed even our own expectations.
“He slotted into the team perfectly and everyone took a shine to him, including our partners and the media. Apart from his obvious skill at the wheel of a Formula One car, he is an immensely personable young guy who is a pleasure to have around. He has secured this seat absolutely on merit and I think coupled with Timo we have the perfect blend of youth, experience, speed and potential and we can’t wait to see what they can achieve together next season.
“Finally, I must thank Lucas di Grassi for the important role that he also played in establishing the team. He contributed a great deal to our development and we wish him every success in his future career, which we have no doubt will be an exciting one.”
D’Ambrosio’s first official duties as a Virgin race driver will commence early next year with the launch of the VR-02, Virgin’s contender for the 2011 season. He will then commence pre-season testing alongside Glock in Valencia in Spain in February.