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Virgin signs d'Ambrosio for 2011

ESPNF1 Staff
December 21, 2010 « Bortolotti surprised to be dropped by Ferrari | »
Jerome d'Ambrosio has done some Friday testing with Virgin this year © Virgin Racing

Virgin Racing has signed Belgian driver Jerome d'Ambrosio to partner Timo Glock next year, after he impressed during Friday practice sessions in 2010.

D'Ambrosio stood in for Lucas di Grassi at the Singapore, Japanese, Korean and Brazilian Grands Prix before completing half a day of testing in Abu Dhabi after the season. He comes with backing from the Gravity Sport management company that is owned by RenaultF1 majority shareholders Genii Capital and placed him in its GP2 team this year.

Virgin boss John Booth said: "Jerome 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, 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."

D'Ambrosio said: "I'm thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing. 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 shown in me and everyone at Gravity Sport Management for the support they have given to my career so far."

Glock will be held on at the team with Booth hoping he can unlock more potential from the car next year.

"Timo has done an excellent job for us in our debut season, in often challenging circumstances," said Booth. "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.

Glock added: "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."

Booth also thanked di Grassi for his efforts in 2010.

"Finally, I must thank Lucas di Grassi for the important role that he also played in establishing the team," he added. "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."