Jerome d'Ambrosio will drive for Virgin in 2011
Virgin Racing have signed Jerome d’Ambrosio to take the second race seat, alongside Timo Glock for the 2011 season. This means that 2010 driver Lucas di Grassi has been ousted from the team, after a disappointing first year with the squad.
D’Ambrosio drove in several Friday Practice sessions for Virgin near the end of the season. He impressed the team with his pace, and now replaces Lucas di Grassi, who constantly fell behind his rivals this year.
This year, Jerome has been racing in the GP2 Asia Series, and finished 12th. Oddly enough, Virgin test driver Luiz Razia finished ahead of him, in 11th, but has been passed over for the second race seat. D’Ambrosio took his first race win this year since 2007. He previously won the 2007 International Formula Master Championship, and the 2003 Belgian Formula 3 1.6 Series.
Team Principal John Booth explained their decision:
"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
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."
From what I’ve heard, this move is certainly not made with financial backing in mind. D’Ambrosio does not appear to have much of a sponsorship package behind him, so Virgin must be signing him based on talent alone, which is great to see. While his results do not appear good on paper, you must remember that the last driver who went from poor results with DAMS (GP2 team) to an F1 team was Kamui Kobayashi.