• Belgian will partner Timo Glock after impressing in practice
• Lucas di Grassi is left without a drive for next season
Virgin Racing have confirmed that Jérôme D’Ambrosio will drive for the team from the start of the 2011 Formula One season.
The 24-year-old Belgian has been signed to partner Timo Glock after impressing during a number of Friday practice outings for the team at selected grands prix last season. It leaves Lucas di Grassi without a drive for 2011, the Brazilian driver having failed to live up to expectations in the team’s debut campaign.
“I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing,” D’Ambrosio said. “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.”
D’Ambrosio has spent the past four seasons competing in the GP2 Series, following earlier stints in GP2 Asia, F3000 Euroseries and Formula Renault. He also held the role of reserve and test driver for the Renault F1 team last season, and enjoyed a successful evaluation period with Virgin which saw him contest the opening practice sessions ahead of races in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Brazil.
The team principal, John Booth, said: “Jérôme had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat. 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. 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.”
D’Ambrosio’s first outing at the wheel of the new VR-02 will come at the Valencia pre-season test in February.