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Wickens waits as late sponsors threaten d'Ambrosio seatUPDATE
Jerome d'Ambrosio's stay in F1 may be short-lived
(GMM) F1 bosses John Booth and Eric Boullier have played down reports Jerome d'Ambrosio is set to lose his race seat at Virgin.
Boullier, Renault team principal and also in charge of Belgian d'Ambrosio's management outfit Gravity, said on Tuesday that Virgin is becoming "impatient" as the 25-year-old driver's sponsors refuse to pay up.
But in response to the subsequent reports, Virgin's British boss Booth told La Derniere Heure that d'Ambrosio is contracted through to the end of 2011.
"Since the beginning of the season Jerome has done a fantastic job and if his contract will be respected, there is no reason to replace him," he said.
At the same time, Boullier tempered his own claim that Virgin will "very clearly" replace d'Ambrosio if the current situation goes on.
"I did not want to drop a bomb, I just wanted to press the alarm," said the Frenchman.
"Jerome's place at Virgin is guaranteed until the end of the season," he insisted.
05/10/11 (GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio could lose his seat at Virgin because his sponsors have not paid up.
The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws said the reluctance of the rookie's Belgian sponsors could hand the race seat to Robert Wickens, whose sponsors are eager for the young Canadian to make his debut as soon as possible.
"I'm not worrying about it. Everybody says I'm doing well," d'Ambrosio is quoted as saying. Zzzz
But the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper said Eric Boullier, the Renault team principal and also boss of d'Ambrosio's management outfit Gravity, is travelling to Belgium on Thursday for crisis talks.
"This cannot go on," said the bespectacled Frenchman. "Anything said about Jerome's so-called sponsors doing what they promised is not true.
"People need to understand that when you make a commitment, you must keep your word. Everything is stuck.
"I have spoken to the folks at Virgin and they are starting to be impatient. They have said clearly that if there is no change, they will think about replacing Jerome," added Boullier.
The reports said d'Ambrosio's sponsors are EUR 4 million in arrears.
Boullier confirmed that it is Wickens, the 22-year-old Canadian linked to Virgin through his Formula Renault 3.5 sponsor Marussia, who is in line for d'Ambrosio's seat.
He said Gravity has "dipped into its purse to calm the situation" but warned that d'Ambrosio's sponsors must eventually pay up.
"Some people make a real science out of making excuses," said Boullier. "There are holidays, the banks are closed, you name it. But there comes a time when the nonsense must stop.
"Jerome's good performances and our personal relationships come in handy in this situation, but it cannot continue forever on that," he insisted.
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