Virgin replace Parente with Soucek

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Andy Soucek has taken Alvaro Parente’s place as third driver at Virgin.

Soucek, who won the Formula Two championship last year, drove for Williams in the young drivers’ test at Jerez at the end of 2009.

Parente lost his place as the team’s third driver after planned sponsorship from the Portuguese tourism institute failed to materialise.

Soucek joins Luiz Razia as one of the team’s reserve drivers.

Soucek said:

This role offers me a great opportunity to prepare myself for the Formula One environment, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie. I look forward to learning from Timo and Lucas as well as soaking up as much information as possible from engineering meetings and time on the simulator.
Andy Soucek

Andy Soucek joins Virgin

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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31 comments on “Virgin replace Parente with Soucek”

  1. Paying drivers are never good enough.
    Is there any exception in history of F1?

    1. I think saying “pay drivers are never good enough” is a bit simplistic. What’s the difference between a company sponsoring a driver (and therefore getting their name on the car) or sponsoring the team?

      Don’t forget that no driver, however talented, would get anywhere near F1 or other top-level motorsport without either massive personal wealth (ahem, Piquet Jnr), the occasional ‘scholarship’ (Hamilton, or WRC driver Matthew Wilson) or a huge amount of corporate sponsorship, for which they will have had to work hard to earn as they rise through the ranks getting consistently good results.

      Soucek has had to struggle but won the F2 title last year – he has as much right to be in F1 as many others do!

    2. Off the top of my head, Niki Lauda and Michael Schumacher.

    3. lauda. He was the first one.
      Didn’t your father tell you never say never?

    4. Eh. Everybody is a pay driver to some extent. Some rumour mongers even say Alonso is at Ferrari this year because a company with deep pockets wanted him there.

  2. I think Pay drivers are a little different these days, for the most part they do have some skill. They get the sponsorship because they have had some half decent results in the lower formulas. It’s not very often now that you hear of drivers using their own (or their families) money to buy a seat, especially as the regulations make it difficult for teams to swap drivers for the odd race. In the old days people with questionable racing skills could buy a seat in a team just for one race. It’s still a shame though that some of the top talent can’t be given a chance without heavy financial backing.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys
    23rd February 2010, 11:11

    Soucek? Really? What were they thinking? He’s as over-rated and as risky a prospect as a driver can be. He also seems to think he’s deserving of a top-flight drive simply because Fernando Alonso has one.

    It could be worse, I suppose. He could be racing.

    1. wait a little longer, and you’ll see it.
      He is a gp2 champ, he deserves to be able to show what he’s got.
      If he was british, you wouldn’t mind.
      You are more bias than james allen.

      1. 1. He won the F2 championship, not GP2. There’s quite a big difference

        2. PM is (I believe) Australian, not British

        Prisoner Monkey’s is being too harsh on Soucek here, but I don’t think being F2 Champion is that big a deal, and it certainly isn’t something which should guarantee him an F1 seat. The real test for young drivers is GP2, and he struggled in that

        1. But I would rather see a driver who’d competed for two seasons in GP2, failed, regrouped and won F2 (admittedly a lower-spec series).

          Why? He’s got more experience of faster open-wheelers and driving them in a competitive environment with other cars on the track. Something which certain drivers who have been promoted overly-quickly do not have. Even with extensive testing, driving a car on an empty bit of tarmac, whatever the speed, is a whole different kettle of fish when you add others onto the same bit of black.

      2. He is a gp2 champ

        No, he’s F2 champion. And frankly, he had a lot more experience than the rest of the drivers in the category last year as we said at the time: Can Andy Soucek jump from F2 to F1?

  4. “Is there any exception in history of F1?”
    I believe a certain 7 times world champion started as a pay driver ;) Jordan were paid by Mercedes for him to race.

    1. Apparently Niki Lauda was a pay driver too. Technichally Sebastian Vettel is a pay driver as well because he has Red Bull support. So there are a few exceptions.

      1. Lauda was a pay driver twice – first for March in 1972, which was paid for via an enormous bank loan. Second was for BRM in 1973, although his results were good enough that he was never asked for the money.

  5. I don’t even know who are racing for Virgin, is this the team Luca DeGrassi is with, if so who is is team mate?

    1. Timo Glock

      1. oh yeah, I forgot abbout him. The virgin move seemed like a step back on his career path, although there was nowhere else to go.

        1. Sometimes people have to take 1 step back in order to give 2 steps forward. It’s life.

  6. why does a start up team need two ‘test’ drivers??? (Soucek + Razia)

    1. I think the simple answer is money. I don’t suppose either of them will ever get to drive the car, but they presumably bring sponsorship

      1. And they’ll do the promo stuff too.

    2. Given they’re the only team pursuing an all-CFD approach I suspect they’ve got a big simulator programme planned.

  7. Last year we have seen Nakajima at Williams, forced by Toyota, score ZERO points, while Rosberg scored 34,5.
    If Nakajima scored half of the point of Rosberg, that would probably raised Williams position 2 places (if Nakajima scored mored, others would score less).
    To get rid of Nakajima, Williams had to swap engines.

    If you are a pay driver you know the team gives you a seat to survive. Everybody in F1 needs sponsors and being rich never hurt but in my opinion that should not be the case. I f a driver earnes mony thorugh a sponsor then why does he need to pay for the car? As a team owner you are giving your ownership away to the driver (or his sponsor). In the end, if you fail to be exceptionally good, this will hurt you more.

    1. By lucky coincidence Toyota pulled out of F1 too…

    2. If Nakajima scored half of the point of Rosberg, that would probably raised Williams position 2 places (if Nakajima scored mored, others would score less).

      Never mind the extra points they might have scored by having a better engine than the Toyota in the back.

  8. Prisoner Monkeys
    23rd February 2010, 12:15

    It’s ironic that Virgin drop Parente for failing to pay up, but then take the King of Phantom Bank Accounts in his stead.

  9. Schumacher started out as a pay driver only the funds came from someone else.

    1. i heard that finally there was no money, but jordan got a ferrari 360 modena, as pay.
      He broke the outside view mirrors, parking it in the garage the first time.

  10. Adrian Sutil,

    I thought he was a pay driver, didn’t his girlfriends father front him the money to go racing? (Somewhere I heard his girlfriend father was in the oil business out in the mid east)

    Could be incorrect through, not sourcing anything specific.

  11. A good prize for him for winning F2 championship.

  12. It’s a shame its all about show me the money… rather than show me the talent…

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