Virgin Racing have today announced that Jerome d’Ambrosio will partner lead driver Timo Glock for 2011, replacing Brazilian Lucas di Grassi.
The 25-year-old Belgian, who competed in Free Practice 1 with Virgin for the final few rounds of 2010, and also drove the VR-01 at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test in November has competed in GP2 for the last four seasons. He was the Renault test and reserve driver for 2010.
Brazilian Luiz Razia has also been announced as Virgin’s test and reserve driver for next season.
Team principal John Booth said that the team had been watching D’Ambrosio’s development with interest, and said that the Belgian had secured this job on merit:
“Jerome had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat,” explained 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 and Luiz 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.
“Timo has done an excellent job for us in our debut season, in often challenging circumstances. There is no doubt that he has helped us to establish a strong foundation from which to develop the team and the package. We look forward to being in a much stronger position to deliver the car he deserves in 2011.
“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 was obviously delighted with the appointment, acknowledging that many people had an eye on the second seat at Virgin. “I'm thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing,” he said. “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. I would like to thank everyone at Marussia Virgin Racing for the faith they have showed in me and everyone at Gravity Sport Management for the support they have given to my career so far.”
Timo Glock congratulated his new team-mate. The experienced German eager to get started in 2011: “My congratulations to Jerome on joining the team and I look forward to working with him next year. After a tough but rewarding debut season for our team we now have a lot of hard work to do to take Marussia Virgin Racing to the level we should be performing at in 2011. I for one cannot wait to get started in the new car when testing begins in February.”