Test driver Soucek leaves Virgin

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Virgin test driver Andy Soucek has officially left the team.

The Spanish driver cited a lack of opportunities to drive the VR-01 as being part of the reason for him leaving the outfit.

Soucek’s departure leaves GP2 racer Luiz Razia as the team’s only reserve driver.

A statement released by Soucek’s management said:

Andy and the Team have mutually agreed to conclude his contractual obligations to Virgin Racing so that Andy can concentrate on racing in other categories.

This season Andy attended 10 of the races ready to substitute for either race driver in the event of an injury or illness and during that time he has regularly been a part of, and contributed to, the team?s trackside engineering meetings.

The current F1 testing agreement means there are few opportunities for test drivers to gain track time in the car. Andy is ambitious, and needs to maintain his racing mileage. Therefore he has decided to concentrate on pursuing racing opportunities in other series.

Andy has enjoyed his time with Virgin Racing, and both sides have parted on good terms, wishing each other well for the future.

The Spanish driver won the F2 championship last year and tested for Williams in December before joining Virgin.

Soucek took Alvaro Parente’s place in the test team after Parente’s backing fell through.

Read more: Can Andy Soucek jump from F2 to F1?

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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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29 comments on “Test driver Soucek leaves Virgin”

  1. Another man lost in the motorsport pyramid.

    Bring back the ladder.

  2. Well, at least he now can look on and try different ways, maybe trying to put his money with a team that does have space for Friday drivers? Or HRT :-p

    1. I read somewheare, that his backing was meant to be about 1 million USD (or EUR) for the season. If Virgin received half of that, he has only half left, which is hardly enough to sit and watch at HRT (Yamamoto brings about 5 million to race?).

      1. Hey Bas, I’ve seen the 5 mil figure bandied around a lot, in fact I have used it, but, do we actually know this for sure? or is this a rumour that’s gained momentum? Cheers ^^.

        1. Good question, i don’t know that any more than you do. Maybe it’s up to 5 million, with 1 million as a basis and then 0.5-1 million for each day driven in the car during the raceweekend?

  3. I’ve never liked Andy Soucek. He’s always struck me as being incredibly arrogant, and with little to show for himself other than being Spanish. It was if he saw the success of Fernando Alonso and expected team principals to sign him on for that very reason. He might have dominated the Formula 2 season last year, but those results were heavily biased – Soucek was light years ahead of the competition in terms of expeirence, and Formula 2 had not been around long enough to establish itself as a credible series.

    Worse, I see him as the poor man’s Nelson Piquet Jnr. He had the Coloni GP2 cars impounded at Spa last year because he had a contractural dispute with them. And while that is a perfectly acceptable legal move to make, Soucek’s issue was with Fisichella Motorsports, who had by then sold the team on to Scuderia Coloni. They were no longer associated the the team. His issue was with them, and yet he had Coloni’s cars impounded anyway. And why? To make a statement. It simply reeked of an extended middle finger being raised to the GP2 community, as if Soucek was shouting “Screw you for not recognising real talent when you see it!!” to anyone who would listen. Nobody did, so it’s little wonder he wound up in Formula 2: he had effectively black-listed himself from the GP2 grid.

    Soucek would probably like to believe that his departure from Virgin Racing is a great loss to Formula 1. But the truth is, the world will keep turning. No-one will lose sleep over this, except maybe him. People will soon forget that he was ever a part of it. And given his behaviour, I can’t say that’s an undeserved fate. Formula 1 doesn’t need him. Formula 1 never did, however much he might tell himself that. It’s an unflattering interpretation, but Soucek made his bed with the that decision to impound Coloni’s cars. Now he has to sleep in it.

    To be a Formula 1 driver, you have to accept that you’re a part of a greater whole. To paraphrase, you should not ask what Formula 1 can do for you, but what you can do for Formula 1. For Soucek, I believe, it was always about him. I don’t think there was every any room in his heart or his head for the team. He’s talented, yes … but at the same time, he misused that talent and developed an over-inflated opinion of himself. To be left outside in the cold is a just reward.

    1. Amazing comment.

    2. And getting involved with another dispute like this does nothing for his reputation. I’m not saying thats right, but its how it is.

      I don’t think he’s got what it takes for F1 anyway, but this move just makes his chances even lower. At least with Virgin he was in the paddock, now he has lost what little ties he had. He was lucky to get the gig in the first place frankly. It sucks that he didn’t get to test the car but in the long term, I don’t think this move will end up doing his F1 ambitions any good.

    3. Oh wow, show us on the doll where Soucek touched you because it really sounds as if you have real life personal dispute with him or something.

      1. … Alonso and Schumacher get far worse than that far more often though, and at least was written coherently…

      2. Oh wow, show us on the doll where Soucek touched you because it really sounds as if you have real life personal dispute with him or something.

        That’s a pretty inappropriate comment to make.

        I do not have a personal issue with Andy Soucek. I just see him as a queue-jumper, someone who waves his hand in the air and clicks at you trying to get your attention. And when he doesn’t get his way, he’s spiteful about it. He might have been jsutified in impounding Coloni’s cars, except that his problem was with FMS, who had left by then. Andy Soucek has shown a willingness to crush anyone who doesn’t give him what he wants. Can you imagine him in the sport proper? He’s not a team player. He never was a team player. He’s just a selfish, childish kid who seems to think a World Championship is his due because someone else did it. He’s exactly the kind of person Formula 1 doesn’t need – in his interviews, he comes across as arrogant and uncaring towards anyone else. He’d be Formula 1’s equivalent of a sociopath, and when things went badly for him, it would be everyone else’s fault.

    4. Compare that to Karun Chandhok. Got the drive in the worst car of the pack, without any chance of testing.
      Now the team needs money, so he does not even drive the car, and still he keeps supporting the team at least in the press!

      Makes him regarded as a very usefull guy by fans and the teams alike.

      1. True. I think Chandhok has a good chance of staying in F1 for a while based on his ability to be such a team player in the worst of circumstances.

    5. Thanks for, at least, making your point of view clear from the very start… because mainly the rest of what you wrote is an opinion based on… nothing. If you knew Andy personally for many many years as I do, you’d never have dared to say this kind of things. And to start with, Andy is not spanish, he is also Austrian, and proud of his dual citizenship.

      Andy has never made the success of Fernando Alonso a marketing argument for himself, except for the increment in public awareness for motorsport in general, and for F1 in particular, in Spain. That is perfectly valid, as in Spain since Fernando won his first GP in 2003, audiences have basically grown 10-fold at least.

      Second, Andy has won the spanish F3 in 2005, and almost won the World Series by Renault in his debut season in 2006, if not for some bad luck in the last couple of races, as well as some decisions taken “in the offices” regarding points stripped off other drivers and later re-instated. BTW, the 2006 WS were won by a swede called Alx Danielsson. Do you know where he went after that, cause I do not !
      Later, Andy has scored podium finishes in two consecutive seasons in the GP2 and GP2 Asia Series, with teams as DPR and Super Nova, which have rarely seen better results than Andy’s before or after he competed for them ! So I think there is at least *some* talent there that you will have to acknowledge, like it or not.

      The story between FMSI and Soucek is too long to be summarized in just two sentences. Soucek won the case in front of court in Coloni’s hometown, and as no money refund was in sight, he impounded the Teams cars. It was his right, and he wanted to make his position clear. If other drivers had the guts to do this, many things that happen in the series below the glitter world of F1 would not happen, as basically contracts and rights of young drivers are of very little value. The only thing that counts is their MONEY and the influence of their contacts!
      And you may well have a look at Coloni’s success before and since, and may ask many inside the GP2 paddock about their opinion concerning that Team and its principals. And then you may come back here and talk to us regarding who deserved what.

      The story you write concerning Andy reaking his middle finger is basically an immense piece of **** if I may add. I never saw Andy raise a middle finger to anyone, not even in a figurative way !

      Before airing your opinion, please make sure you have the basics of knowledge you can base your arguments on, ’cause in case you don’t, what comes out is exactly what you wrote: a pile of biased so-called “arguments”, which have no resemblance to reality.

      Andy has been fighting hard on and off the track to simply put one foot into F1, and he has no influent friends, parents or manager as others drivers have. If he is where he is, it’s mainly because of his success and his charisma to convince some medium-level sponsors, which is an immensely difficult task. BTW, did you know Andy is a well-respected TV commentator over here in Spain. Do you honestly think they would invite an arrogant show-off, as you descibed him ?

      Andy is well aware that F1 has not come to a standstill because of him leaving, but please do not believe he is not 100% focused on coming back soon. Regarding the sentence “I don’t think there was every any room in his heart or his head for the team”, perhaps it was more that the team did not have room in it for Andy ! Andy has been in the simulator countless hours and has taken part in all the tasks his team has given him, to everybody’s satisfaction. It is simply that he wants to feel a race driver again. There may be other so-called “test” drivers who are willing to not hit the track for several years, but as the case De la Rosa has shown, in the end the racing spirit prevails in their head.

      Andy deserves to be where he was and will be, you may like it or not. If guys like Nakajima, Piquet Jr., Sutil, Buemi, Petrov not to name the likes of Chandhok etc. have a seat in F1, why not Andy ? Andy has at least the same experience as these drivers have, if not more, and his results are no step behind the ones of any of these drivers.

      Let me add one more question: where did you read Andy’s over-inflated opinion of himself ?

      Last but not least: It seems that you are particularly upset with what happened to Coloni / FMSI, so much so that I would say it is the only real “fact” you base your negative opinion regarding Andy on. GP2 will move on, with or without that thing ( I would not even call it team, it’s just a bunch of “mafiosi”) called Coloni motorsports. And it is more likely that another driver impounds their cars than Coloni winning any GP2 title in the next ten years !

      So, keep fighting Andy, despite all odds, many are with you in your journey and we are sure you WILL be back soon !

      Kind regards from Madrid.

      1. A lot of aspects of your article and that of Prisoners Monkkeys are scarringly similar.


      2. Prisoner Monkey’s piece wasn’t too nice…
        But, yours is the opposite of his I think.

        Paragraph 1
        Saying Andy is rubbish when you don’t know him, isn’t very good.
        But, you don’t know him personally either do you? so your support of Andy isn’t any different.

        Paragraph 3
        Alx is doing, club level racing I believe, he has kind of fell off the face off the earth, which surprises me as I thought he was quite good.

        Paragraph 4
        Now this creates an interesting position for you, here you are supporting Andy when he fights for his fair go, and hurts his team by doing so…
        How do you feel about Ferrari’s shindig at Hock? Because this seems to be a remarkably similar proposition. Do you support Massa, who’s rights (your word) were undoubtedly compromised?

        Paragraph 5
        If my understanding is correct, Andy had the cars impounded to make a point, that could classify as a figurative middle finger I suspect…

        Paragraph 6
        I did Philosophy last year, What it taught me is that “know” or knowledge” were very dangerous words, Unless you “know” then how is it fair to accuse PM of not “knowing”?

        Paragraph 7
        Legard is a perfectly nice bloke I’m sure, but he is a rubbish commentator, I’m sure it can work backwards as well.

        Paragraph 8
        racing spirit? well, Wurz has said he wants to test but not race, so that was a bad example.
        But apart from that you are right, I suspect Andy started to realise that they weren’t going to give him a drive, He obviously sees himself as a future F1 driver so you can’t blame him for not being happy there.

        Paragraph 9
        Deserve is such a silly word…
        Nakajima on occasion showed quite a bit of talent, Piquet probably didn’t have the best support from Alonso’s team, (see what I did there?), Sutil, is a very solid driver, It’s taken Jaime the best part of a year to catch Buemi in terms of pace, and Petov has been one of the stand outs from this year, although personally I suspect it’s the car more than him… And at the end of that I still maintain my Mum “deserves” it more than any of them…

        paragraph 10
        Probably in an article.

        paragraph 11
        Again with the facts!
        … mafiosi? … … I’m sure they have better things to do…

        ….. Apart from that it was also quite an interesting read! Cheers Miguel ^^

        1. Actually Miguel I like you comments, I am just bored at present, and just happened to pick yours to have a go at… ^^

          1. Yea ditto. Ive moved cities so do have a bit of spare time up my sleeves while trying to find a new job.

    6. Are you on the F1 Rejects forum by any chance? I’m sure I’ve heard that description, “poor man’s Nelson Piquet”, about Soucek before on there.

  4. Charles Carroll
    11th August 2010, 14:40

    I’m not really sure that Virgin will be around next year anyway.

    So does it matter that their reserve driver, who no one has really heard of nor has seen actually driving, has quit?

  5. Who? Meh…

    Honestly what is he trying to achieve by leaving mid season? It’s not going to change anything.

    1. Maybe he hopes the funds that are left can get him a drive in GP2 or somewhere else.

  6. Virgin have issued a similar statement to Soucek’s management.

    1. And on Autosport Soucek now comments on the situation, saying they parted without bad feelings: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/85921

  7. Perhaps it was his financial backers that wanted him to leave. I mean, if you’re paying big cash to have your man in the car, and he isn’t… wouldn’t you want to spend that money elsewhere?

    This whole no-testing rule is helping no one. The teams are still spending all their money

  8. Soucek saw that HRT another new team is constantly changing driver in the last few races so may be he got a bit frustrated about it & secondly he is a F2 champion so he think that it’s better to be a racing driver on Sunday other than a third driver for the team which is giving him no chance to race.

  9. Dear Mike,

    thanks for reading my comments and taking time to comment on them. Just to let you know: I am a personal friend of Andy for almost a decade now, otherwise perhaps I would not have felt the neccessity to answer Prisoner Monekys comments.
    So I know perfectly what I am talking about in every detail.
    Best wishes from Madrid.

    1. Thanks for your comment/rant before. Very interesting (and a nice read on a low news day).

      Most of us never have the opportunity to get that close to the actual racers and teammembers (although i saw some posters here who did), so it is great to get some first hand information. Never knew that much about Soucek.

      I just read Andy commenting on Autosport that he parted with Virgin on good terms, after he asked them to release him of his duties to focus on actually driving a car in lower series instead of watching from the sidelines. That seems to support your arguments.

    2. In that case, that’s pretty awesome, mate of a future f1 driver eh? not bad going.

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