Virgin Racing have announced that GP2 racer Jerome D'Ambrosio has joined the team for the remainder of the season. The 25-year-old Belgian will drive for the team in the first practice sessions at the Singapore, Japanese, Korean and Brazilian Grands Prix.
The team has said it will use these opportunities to evaluate D'Ambrosio's potential. He will drive Lucas di Grassi's car in the sessions, driving alongside Timo Glock. D'Ambrosio will also drive for the team at the young driver tests that will take place in Abu Dhabi after the end of the season.
D'Ambrosio has been racing in GP2 since 2008, and has been a reserve and test driver for Renault F1 during 2010. Upon the announcement, he said: “My ultimate goal has always been to race in Formula 1 and I am delighted to get a step closer. I wish to thank Virgin Racing and Gravity Sport Management for their confidence. I won’t disappoint them. This drive is a fantastic opportunity and I am looking forward to helping the team in every way I can, as well as gaining experience on four of the most demanding tracks of the F1 calendar. Looking at the 2011 season, this will be very useful. Also, I will be very proud to wear the Belgian colours on my helmet during these official practice sessions, as it means a lot to me.”
Virgin Racing CEO Graeme Lowdon added: “We are very pleased to welcome Jerome to Virgin Racing and we look forward to providing him with the opportunity to drive the VR-01 during the first free practice session of the next four race weekends. He will also take part in our young driver test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. We have a contract with Timo Glock for another two years and an option on the services of Lucas di Grassi for next year. Both drivers have done an outstanding job for us in our debut season. We are always looking to progress new racing talent and the team out of which Virgin Racing was born has a long history of this. Jerome is a real racer and very deserving of this opportunity. We are looking forward to evaluating his performance with effect from next weekend's Singapore Grand Prix. With both Jerome and Luis supporting the Team, we have two drivers with enormous future potential.”
Earlier in September reports in Belgium suggested that D'Ambrosio has been offered a race drive for next season by the Virgin team, although team principal John Booth later rubbished these rumours, saying it was likely both Glock and di Grassi would be retained.