Jerome d’Ambrosio to drive for Virgin in 2011

2011 F1 season

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Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin, Singapore, 2010

Virgin have signed Jerome d’Ambrosio to drive alongside Timo Glock in 2011.

The Belgian driver, who appeared for Virgin in four practice sessions at the end of this year, will replace Lucas di Grassi.

D’Ambrosio finished 12th in this year’s GP2 championship behind Virgin’s reserve driver Luiz Razia. He said:

I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing.

When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for. I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat, but at the same time I got on well with the team and felt that I had found my home.

I feel very comfortable with them – they are extremely professional and ambitious people and it is exciting to think that I can be a part of shaping the team’s future.

I would like to thank everyone at Marussia Virgin Racing for the faith they have shown in me and everyone at Gravity Sport Management for the support they have given to my career so far.
Jerome d’Ambrosio

Virgin team principal John Booth added:

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 own expectations.

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.

Timo has done an excellent job for us in our debut season, in often challenging circumstances. There is no doubt that he has helped us to establish a strong foundation from which to develop the team and the package. We look forward to being in a much stronger position to deliver the car he deserves in 2011.

Finally, I must thank Lucas di Grassi for the important role that he also played in establishing the team. He contributed a great deal to our development and we wish him every success in his future career, which we have no doubt will be an exciting one.
John Booth

View the list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams.

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    40 comments on “Jerome d’Ambrosio to drive for Virgin in 2011”

    1. That’s great news!

      Saw Jerome at the Renault World Series, seems like a good chap, hopefully he’ll have a better run than Grosjean did, considering their roots in the Renault Driver Development programme.

    2. From his GP2 season, not much good. But then again Kobayashi didnt have a great season either in GP2. He would not have been my first choice for Virgin.

      1. He also outperformed Kobayashi two years in a row as team mates in GP2, but as we’ve seen that doesn’t always translate.

    3. It was to be expected. DiGrassi is said to be good as a test driver, but when they have Glock to do that job, they might just as well try a new driver.
      Ambrosio did show some promise in other categories (just like Di Grassi) so I hope he makes the cut.

      1. I expected it. Di Grassi has been consistently beaten by Glock (of course it was obvious, Glock is more experienced). But anyway DI Grassi didn’t improve in my opinion and someone else needs to give it a try.

    4. I would have given di grassi another season. Look how much algusuari (or however you spell it) improved In his second season.

      1. It’s Jaime Alguersuari.

      2. First full season though…

    5. I wouldn’t be surprised if this came to be a financial decision. Branson’s already said he won’t stump up extra money for the team so Virgin went with the guy with a bigger sponsor packet.

      The guy may very well be the next Olivier Panis. He could also be the next Romain Grosjean.

      1. Being Belgian I’m probably biased, but I don’t recall d’Ambrosio having tons of cashing lying around. I’d say Van der Garde had a far more substantial backing that d’Ambriosio actually.

        His drive at Spa this year is testament to what he could do I think. Mind you that Kobayashi’s poor showing in GP2 was also due to having an underpar DAMS under his ****. Look how well he performed in some races during the past season. There’s always the chance of failure, but generally speaking, people seem to underestimate the importance of a team in GP2, even if it is a spec series.

      2. The father of Guido van de Gardes wife was willing to give his son in law the needed 15 mil if that could get him in a car.

        Virgin choose quality over cash

      3. Doesn’t he have more money than di Grassi though?

      4. A German motorsports site was reporting a few months ago that D’Ambrosio almost had the required budget of around 5 million euros in place. So the second driver was always going to have to bring money in, but that was to be expected. Still a sensible choice though

      5. May I remind you that Olivier Panis won a race in only his third season in F1? I imagine “the new Grosjean” would be lots more likely.

    6. As a Belgian I’m really happy! Finally a team that chooses talent over money. Sure he brings something, but nothing like the big bag of euro’s from Van de Garde…

      As for his results in GP2. Nothing very exciting indeed. He did outperform Kobayashi in 2009 in their season together at DAMS. I think it’s more his solid performances as the third Virgin driver that sealed the deal. His technical imput was pretty impressive apparently, this combined with the speed that is obviously there.

      The Abu Dhabi test with Renault impressed the Renault team also very much, so much that his Gravity management (part owner of Renault) pushed him to the Virgin management…

      Anyhow, I’m very happy he will get his chance to shine!! Belgian in F1, it’s been too long!!

      1. As a fellow Belgian I totally agree. COTD!

        1. Sod it i’m jumping on the bandwagon, as a Frenchman that likes the Belgian made Stella Artois I’m in full support of Belgiuminess that F1 is embracing in this Belgium driver.

          I just hope much like the my favourite beer, he has a good head

          FNAR FNAR
          CHORTLE CHORTLE… and all that other nonsense.

      2. Any driver considered by a team has talent. They can’t be without talent, because they need it to qualify for a superlicence. If anything, van der Garde has more of it than d’Ambrosio, because van der Garde’s GP2 results have been better.

        1. Romain Grosjean’s GP2 results have been better than theirs, where is he now? He was even better than Kobayashi in GP2…

          GP2 is not F1. Winning everything in lower categories is not directly linked to F1 succes…

    7. I’m happy for him and seeing new-possible-talent in F1, but I’m not sure this is a good move for VR. They should have kept their drivers so they can see their weak points: they are breaking up what they built the whole season now and need to trust a new driver about the limits of the car and how development should proccess, which I believe is hard to do, especially for a rookie!
      Which makes me believe this replacement is all about the finances, oh well- best of luck to them all :)

      1. Except he is a known quantity to them.

        The Belgian driver, who appeared for Virgin in four practice sessions at the end of this year

        So it’s not like they don’t have some baseline data or already trust him with the car…

    8. Well certainly, if he performs same like Lucas, he could be replaced next year. I think, marussia should have stuck to Lucas . I have no idea what were they expectin out of him. Did the team want him to win races ? It has been some kind of a joke for the teams to kick out the drivers for no fault of theirs. I know money is important but if Jerome isnt bringing anything substantial, then I wud say , its not a very good call because atleast Lucas had 1 year of F1 experience and in this age of F1 with no testing, he wud have certainly improved.

    9. what? no kimi? are you serious?!

      only joking, seriously though i think this is a good move. di grassi was unfortunately out of his depth in F1 and sometimes you just have to admit that and try someone else.

      realistically speaking i’d be amazed if glock hangs around at the team beyond next year. i think he is more than good enough for a seat at one of the top midfeild teams and was suprised that he wasn’t considered for hulkenburg’s williams seat alongside rubens.

      on a side note, with the virgin seat full where is hulkenburg likely to go? if anywhere, if liuzzi’s force inida seat came up they would surely go with di resta? weird one that, got a feeling the hulk may miss out sadly.

      still good move for virgin racing, di grassi must have known his time was up when a)they brought him in for friday running and b)he binned it on the way to the grid in suzuka (unforgivable and completely amatuer).

      merry christmas!

      1. Di Resta is overrated. The Hulk became champion in every racingcategory he participated in(almost 100% at first try)

        1. And still, in his first F1 season he scored less points than a guy who finished 16th in two GP2 seasons and who was driving a worse car…

    10. It’s good to see more nationalities on the grid for next season. At the end of 2010 a quarter of the grid was German but now Williams have replaced there’s with a Venezuelan, Sauber have replaced there’s with a Mexican and now Virgin have replaced there’s with a Belgian.

      In my opinion diversity in a world wide sport like this can only be a good thing.

      1. now Virgin have replaced theirs with a Belgian.

        Di Grassi is Brazilian, but point taken.

        Hopefully this will bring a bigger crowd to Spa!

        1. I think that this year I’ll be finally going to Spa, might be the last time there will be a race there anyway : )

        2. Di Grassi is Brazilian, but point taken.

          Of course he is, what an idiot I am.

          *slapps forehead*

          But my point can still stand because there were also 4 Brazilians on the grid.

        3. I was planning on going, but now I’m absolutely sure about it. It can only work well for the atmosphere and the amount of visitors to the track. They really need it to be honest.

    11. Thats great! I really like diversity in the sport, its great that people from various countries are competeing especially with the amount of germans there are now.

    12. can’t say too much about him except that he seems to be serious pro and nice chap. I was doubtful if he manages to win a seat facing such strong competition so it’s a nice surprise. can’t wait to see him on the track.

    13. Honestly I am surprised he finished back of their reserved driver? Is this another thing, that the team need sponsor that he will bring against the salary they have to pay him so they took him on board where there are still many talented & experience driver out in the market?

    14. reading the other news post about virgin i bet this guy is happy that they arnt using kers (or by the end of the season he will be dead)

    15. Is it just me or does he look exactly like Vitaly Petrov in that photo?

    16. Congratulations to Jerome. I think he has some talent and it’s always nice when a new guy gets a chance. I can’t help but feel for Lucas though. I really think that rookies need two seasons in F1 and then they can be judged.

      Rookies aren’t really fairing well; Lucas is out, Hulk may not be on the grid next year despite a pole position and Chandhok was out ages ago. Perez and Jerome may be in now and there are some good driver development programmes but they never really seem to get a proper crack at F1 now with the testing ban.

    17. “Yo, Jérome d’Ambrosio, I’m real happy for you and I’mma let you finish, but Bertrand Baguette is a much better Belgian driver.”

      1. “Sadly, he got eaten along with the rest of my sandwich”.

    18. It’s a shame for Lucas but every year there seems to be a huge amount of decent junior drivers all wanting contracts so I can’t blame teams for wanting to risk signing a new rookie. They’re all hoping they can unearth the next Vettel I guess. With so much competition for places it’s not enough to just be good, you’ve got to have something special. The likes of Hamilton and Vettel have I suspect raised expectations about what a rookie should achieve though.

      Good look to d’Ambrosio, there’s no doubt he’s gonna need plenty regardless of what talent he brings.

    19. It’s a shame for Renault that they didn’t hire him instead of Petrov. Eric Boullier once said, that Jerome has the talent but he doesn’t have the sponsors to be in RF1 race seat in 2011, as well as mentioning that teaming him up with Kubica would not be positive for Jerome.

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