Virgin eyes ride-buyer d'Ambrosio UPDATE #2
This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The Virgin Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce that it has signed rising talent Jerome D’Ambrosio in an evaluation role for four of the remaining five race weekends of the 2010 season. Jerome will take part in the first free practice session on Friday mornings at the Singapore, Japanese, Korean and Brazilian Grands Prix and the team will be using this opportunity to evaluate Jerome’s potential. Jerome will join existing long term reserve driver Luis Razia who continues in his role supporting the Virgin Racing F1 Team.
The 25 year old Belgian will run in car number 25 for the 90 minute opening session, alongside Timo Glock, before handing over the reins to Lucas di Grassi for the remainder of the race weekend.
In addition, Virgin Racing will run Jerome at the young driver test sessions taking place in Abu Dhabi following the conclusion of the season finale.
Jerome has spent the last four seasons competing in the GP2 Series, prior to which he raced in the GP2 Asia series. International Formula Master, the F3000 Euroseries and Formula Renault. Alongside his 2010 GP2 commitments he has also held the role of Reserve and Test Driver for the Renault F1 Team.
Jerome commented: “My ultimate goal has always been to race in Formula 1 and I am delighted to get a step closer. I wish to thank Virgin Racing and Gravity Sport Management for their confidence. I won't disappoint them. This drive is a fantastic opportunity and I am looking forward to helping the team in every way I can, as well as gaining experience on four of the most demanding tracks of the F1 calendar. Looking at the 2011 season, this will be very useful. Also, I will be very proud to wear the Belgian colors on my helmet during these official practice sessions, as it means a lot to me.”
Graeme Lowdon, CEO of Virgin Racing, commented: “We are very pleased to welcome Jerome to Virgin Racing and we look forward to providing him with the opportunity to drive the VR-01 during the first free practice session of the next four race weekends. He will also take part in our young driver test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. We have a contract with Timo Glock for another two years and an option on the services of Lucas di Grassi for next year. Both drivers have done an outstanding job for us in our debut season. We are always looking to progress new racing talent and the team out of which Virgin Racing was born has a long history of this. Jerome is a real racer and very deserving of this opportunity. We are looking forward to evaluating his performance with effect from next weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. With both Jerome and Luis supporting the Team, we have two drivers with enormous future potential.” 09/14/10 (GMM) Speculation is rising once again that Virgin is considering a change to its driver line-up for the 2011 season.
Team boss John Booth earlier played down reports he is considering replacing Lucas di Grassi with Jerome d'Ambrosio.
The Belgian reports said GP2 driver d'Ambrosio, already working with Virgin as its new reserve driver, has been offered Brazilian di Grassi's race seat for 2011 if he can raise EUR 5 million.
"If we can gather the requested budget, Jerome will be in F1 next year," his manager Yves Decorte told La Derniere Heure newspaper.
"And if we can do it quickly, he might even be able to drive on a Friday morning at the end of the season," added Decorte.
"Today we have three fifths of the budget, and I still have a lot of meetings lined up. I rate our chances to be there at 80 per cent," he said.09/11/10 (GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio has reportedly been offered a race seat with Virgin next year if he can find the necessary budget.
It is believed Timo Glock has now definitely committed to the new British team for 2011, but the place currently occupied by Brazilian rookie Lucas di Grassi is less secure.
Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure Les Sports, reporting that Virgin is asking for EUR 5 million for the seat, said d'Ambrosio's management Gravity Sports is open to the offer.
Currently, Belgian 24-year-old d'Ambrosio, who races in GP2, is a Renault reserve driver, but it is believed he might also be in line to replace a Virgin race driver in 2010 if either Glock or di Grassi is unable to race.
D'Ambrosio might also appear in a Virgin during a Friday free practice session at one of the remaining grands prix this season.
Renault and Gravity boss Eric Boullier confirmed Virgin's offer for d'Ambrosio.
"John Booth, the boss of Virgin, is someone with a realistic vision," he said.
"Jerome is showing more than ever that he is ready for F1. At Spa he was excellent," added Boullier.
"With commercial agreements in the future we can work with Virgin, we take their offer seriously. I can not reveal the budget but it is not at all insurmountable."
Said d'Ambrosio: "This is the opportunity of a lifetime."
The reports have sparked rumors that, like Lotus, Virgin might also switch to Renault engine power for 2011.