Virgin confirm Pic to replace D’Ambrosio

2012 F1 season

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Charles Pic, Virgin, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Virgin have announced GP2 driver Charles Pic will race for them in 2012.

The 21-year-old, who finished fourth in GP2 this year, will join the team as it becomes Marussia next year.

With Timo Glock already confirmed at the team the announcement leaves Jerome D’Ambrosio lacking a drive for next season.

Pic said: “As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu Dhabi last week it was a tough test.

“The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job. I was pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too, so a very good start but this is just the beginning and I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to reward this chance.

“I like the team a lot; we worked well together in the test and I feel very comfortable. They want to do things the right way and I can see that there is a lot of determination to succeed, so it is very special for me to be part of that. I’m looking forward to working hard in every area over the winter to ensure I am ready for the start of testing and my first Grand Prix.”

Team principal John Booth said: “We naturally keep a close eye on the junior formulae and Charles is certainly someone we have been watching over the past few years.

“The real barometer however was our Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi last week, where we put him through a series of tough tests to thoroughly evaluate his potential. This was his first time in a Formula One car so it should have been quite daunting, however Charles was extremely focused on what needed to be done and absolutely rose to the challenge. He continued to improve in every area but his race simulation work particularly caught our eye.”

“Winter testing will be upon us before we know it, so it is actually a relatively short space of time ahead with a lot for Charles to get used to, but he is an extremely determined young guy and he worked very well with the team last week. He has an extremely mature head on young shoulders, so I have no doubt that he will be working very hard over the winter to prepare for his debut season.”

Booth added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jerome D’Ambrosio for his hard work and important contribution to our team over the past 12 months or more. He has an exciting future to look forward to I’m sure and we wish him every success.”

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Keith Collantine
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66 comments on “Virgin confirm Pic to replace D’Ambrosio”

  1. How many rookies will Virgin go through? I think young drivers need at least a season until they’re up to speed anyway so to keep kicking them out is rather pointless. I like Jerome and I genuinely believe he had potential so I’m very sad for him. Good luck to Pic though

    1. I agree with you completely Steph.

      Jerome did well, as did Luca last season, but Virgin seems to want a rookie who can match Glock and that’s just not possible.

      Glock went wheel to wheel with Hamilton in GP2 and fought through the field many times in his Toyota days. If Virgin (Marussia, whatever) want to be taken seriously, if they want to develop into a capable team, they need some stability.

      I don’t see how a driver who got 4th in GP2 is going to out perform Jerome, but I hope Pic can prove me wrong. Maybe in a few seasons Pic can become team leader there and free up Glock to move onto greener and faster pastures :)

      1. Virgin seems to want a rookie who can match Glock

        And as soon as they find one, Glock will be out. It’s all about money im afraid. Which is unfortunate.

      2. I agree with you as well @Steph, it seems they will be rotating the rookies until either the car gets better and it makes sense to have a good driver in there or they find their own hero.

        1. I also agree with @Steph and @BasCB D’Ambrosio had potential and was very close to Glock, what a shame.

    2. I agree, @Steph . I though Jerome had done a pretty good job, especially at the start of the season. Although this announcement was predictable, I don’t understand why they’ve chosen Pic over Wickens. Wickens won FR3.5, Pic finished 4th in GP2. Pic wasn’t part of their team.

    3. @Steph Couldn’t have said it better myself. Pretty disappointed in Virgin to be honest.

  2. d’ambrosio had done a good job when you consider timo’s experience. esp in first half of the season he out qualified him plenty of times.

    what are some of these rookies to do???

    1. All they need to do is have the commentary team interview them without fault at every race weekend and continually rant about how good they are in their rookie year, even though they have done nothing more than the other rookies.

      1. hear hear, as a Belgian watching the BBC casts because off lack off good commentary from the Belgian broadcastings I found it very low that they were so full about Di Resta but never mentioned the other rookies. Real shame in a few years F1 will be completely dead in Belgian when Spa is no longer on the calendar.

        1. Well I guess it doesn’t help that Di Resta was in the points most of the time, while D’Ambrosio was only really fighting Glock for 21-22

          1. Di Resta really hasn’t impressed me as much as he has others, if he had been racing for Virgin it’s likely he wouldn’t be receiving quite so much praise.

  3. What is the point of this honestly? Just so someone else can have a go at finishing 21st-24th next year? I mean what did they expect from D’Ambrosio this year, a couple of top tens, maybe a podium? One guy in a team has to beat the other one, so if D’Ambrosio had had the upper hand over Glock this year, would Glock be out of the door instead?

    Also what does this mean for next year? Does whichever of the two drivers gets beaten by the other one get the boot?

    1. I know F1 is a cut throat business but how can they expect a rookie to be right on the pace in his first season – you need to give these guys two seasons at least to prove their worth; I feel he showed enough talent to deserve that second season

    2. I think the answer is pretty easy to find. They need the second driver to fund part of the budget for next year.

      D’Ambrosio has now repleted his cashbag, so he is replaced by Pic.

      I find this sentence a bit mysterious

      He has an exciting future to look forward to I’m sure and we wish him every success.”

      – does that mean they know something we don’t about Jerome’s further career?

      As far as I know he might face a big challenge in getting any drive right now in any racing series. But thats about it. Or is he going with the Lotus team in Indycars?

  4. I wonder what they are trying to achieve by putting in another rookie every year…*probably no more then cashing in*.

  5. shame for d’Ambrosio as its impossible to prove any potential in a car so far off the pace. Glock is a pretty good driver too so it was a tough introduction. Hopefully he gets another chance along the line

  6. Dimitris 1395 (@)
    27th November 2011, 21:17

    He is a good driver, but I believe he will be underestimated in Virgin (or Marussia, whatever)

  7. I hope Pic’s got a drive lined up for 2013 when they kick him out. Sounds like d’Ambrosio’s done nothing wrong, and while it feels “right” that there’s a French driver in F1 again, the current GP2 champion is also French, and more deserving of a drive.

    Say what you like about Maldonado, but at least Williams seem to be giving him more than one year to prove himself, as they did with Nakajima.

    1. and as they unfortunatly did not do with Hulkenberg…

      1. Now if ever a man deserved a second season it was Hulkenberg, but as they say, money talks….

    2. Williams running Nakajima was nothing to do with giving him time to prove himself and everything to do with an obligation to Toyota as part of the engine deal.

  8. Hope the team make a huge leap foward. Otherwise, we’ll see another rookie in 2013. And another one in 2014… and guess what? another on… no wait, the team will fold before that!

    1. Or change hands again – now what sports car company haven’t we seen in F1 yet….?

        1. I think Noble now belongs to Ginetta.

  9. D’ambrosio was too young for F1. Came in too early. Hope to see him again in a couple of years from now

    1. D’Ambrosio was hardly the youngest driver on the grid.

      It’s a shame for D’Ambrosio because he did show some potential in my opinion.

    2. @dam00r Hamilton and d’Ambrosio are both born in 1985. Think they should have given him one more year though..

  10. Feel sorry for D’Ambrosio, He’s done a pretty good job in a pretty poor car.

    Charles pic may be a good driver but he’s still going to have to come in as a rookie in a poor car & I can’t really see him doing a better job than what D’Ambrosio would have with a years experience behind him.

    1. Feel sorry for D’Ambrosio, He’s done a pretty good job in a pretty poor car.

      I agree.

      Charles pic may be a good driver but he’s still going to have to come in as a rookie in a poor car

      Supposedly Marussia will have a better car next year, that was the whole point behind the personnel changes and their wind tunnel arrangement with McLaren.

  11. The only reason that Lotus have jumped ahead is because of consistency with the drivers. They would have been better to keep two drivers that are challenging each other. This gives both drivers motivation as well as a solid build around the team.

    1. Also Lotus have had a better car fresh from the box, with working updates (post Singapore) and they are better funded (or appear to be) But yes, it helps that they do have 2 experienced GP drivers.

      I do agree that Virgin should keep it consistant, the team will know the drivers (and vice virsa) and be able to move forward better (in my opinion)

  12. sigh. i like jerome. sadly, it seems his f1 career is over. i really cannot take to virgin/marussia if they are going to keep on replacing their rookie driver each year.

    1. Well, Jerome paid for his seat right?
      Luca got the boot because Jerome had more money didn’t he?

      That the same is happening to Jerome.
      Pic has more money.

  13. Quite disgusting really.

    D’Ambrosio has had a brilliant rookie season just like Perez and Di Resta he was able to put one over on a much more experianced and highly rated team mate and had proven he was worthy of keeping the seat for another season.

    With hindsight we might look back and see this as the making of him. Hope he gets a good test seat somewhere if he doesnt get a good offer to drive outwith F1 rather than see him at the back of the grid with a rentacar

    Good luck to Pic although he’s never stood out in GP2 for me. Only Roman did enough to deserve a chance in F1 2012 from last years GP2 grid

  14. In a year’s time they’ll be making their exciting new announcement on their brand new driver replacing him.

  15. being Robert Wickens I’d pretty dissapointed … there are better options out there, but it the question of money (d’Ambriosio was nearly kicked out in the middle of the season beacause of late payments) … but I’m also surprised they didn’t pick a russian driver … it’s a strange world of F1 …

    1. If they came along a few years earlier that might have snatched up Petrov. It would have been a tragedy for Petrov to be stuck at the back of the grid, but it would atleast make Eric Boullier’s job a little easier this winter!! ;)

      1. How would it? Petrov isn’t really anything special, certainly not a future F1 champion unless he gets vettels seat next season.

        It will be a tragedy if Grojean and Senna arn’t the 2 Renault/Lotus drivers next year.

      2. I’m really upset for Wickens. Have they at least confirmed him as the dreaded “third driver” for next season?
        As far as Boullier goes, I don’t think you could ever make his job easy enough. I’ve said it before. As a manager, the man seems clueless.

  16. That’s a shame for d’Ambrosio, he wasn’t too bad to be fair. He put in some good performances; I doubt he’ll get a seat anywhere for 2012 though. Hope Charles Pic is decent…. I feel Robert Wickens is more deserving of the seat though.

    1. I agree totally. Wickens has a better racing record

  17. It’s not as if d’Ambrosio did badly, he finished ahead of Timo Glock in the drivers standings this year. Welcome to the farce that is the Virgin/Marussia rookie driver merry-go-round.

    1. But I suspect that is because Glock had more retirements.

      1. You’re right Glock did have more retirements, I’ve just been looking at the results though and d’Ambrosio has 2 14th places whereas Glock’s best finishes were a pair of 15ths. Both of d’Ambrosio’s best finishes were in races where Glock also finished.

        1. @robk23

          In Australia Glock was stuck in the garage whilst the team fixed a mechanical problem before he was put back onto the track. I don’t think he was classified.

          Canada is not as unfair, however Glock (His own fault) had a huge lock up near the end of the race and was helpless from then on.

          In the ten races they both completed (not including Australia for obvious reasons) Glock finished ahead 7 times. He also out qualified Jerome 14-5.

          Personally, I’m quite impressed by Jerome. I didn’t think he’d have been closer than Luca was, and he has been.

          However his drivers ranking was somewhat assisted.

  18. I feel sorry for Wickens to be honest, as I think he has potential.
    D’Ambrosios had a decent year, done better than di Grassi.
    Pic was fast in GP2 but I the only reason hes been given the seat is his cash. Sad really

  19. Hope He can find a drive in the next few years. He did a good job..

  20. The harsh truth is Pic is probably going to be “Just another Virgin/Marussia driver to get fired after one year and cash injection to the team” after D’Ambrosio and “What was his name 2010 Glock teammate”

  21. I couldnt even remember Di Grassi’s name until the post two above this one mentioned it. Marussia have to make a big step forward in marketing and race performance next year, to me they’re pretty anonymous.

  22. Note to all rookies: don’t sign for Virgin. Complete waste of time. They said the exact same thing about Di Grassi last year “I think Lucas has a bright future ahead of him”. Where is he now? Rookies can’t prove themselves at all in one year and I thought D’ambrosio had a good season on the whole and showed some good potential. I hope he comes back one day but I can’t see it happening in the near future.

  23. No point in slating Virgin, we would have all made the same decision in their position, Formula 1 is a harsh world.

    I guess for them to keep their No.2 driver he has to really stand out, which D’ambrosio hasn’t really done, but at the end of the day when your at that end of the grid money talks.

  24. D’ambrosio never really got a fair chance in that car, but he tried his best maximise the potential of it. He never really had a big accident except for in Malaysia due to a brake failure , and managed to at sometimes out-qualify and out-race Timo.
    Sadly this is another driver who has spent most of his life up till now working hard to get into F1 and when he gets to it, his career is over after one season due to circumstances out-width his control.

  25. Another hopeless nobody to replace the hopeless nobody from 2011. Who happened to have replaced the initial hopeless nobody in their first year. This team is hopeless.

  26. CHARLES PIC-KED…… :)

  27. D’ambrosio is probably going to return to his Renault test/reserve role as I believe he is managed by Éric Bouiller. If not, he might test for the Renault-powered Williams team in 2012.

  28. Lotus have a future,HRT trying to make one,this team seems like they are going more & more backwards.

  29. Another rookie for Virgin. I think Jerome did quite good job as a rookie but another new one come with new year. I don’t know how good he is but I don’t think it’s a good idea.

  30. I wonder how Pic’s signing will affect Romain Grosjean’s chances of securing a drive? One of the biggest cards Grosjean had to play was that he is French (or at least that he races with a French licence), but now that Chales Pic is on the grid, he’s lost some of his thunder. Although Eric Boullier was on a “taskforce” to secure the return of the French Grand Prix, and although that organisation believed that getting a French driver into the sport was the key to this, it was never explicitly stated that that French driver had to be Romain Grosjean or that he had to drive for Renault – only that a French driver in the sport was necessary. Charles Pic satisfies that condition, so maybe Romain Grosjean’s stock at Renault has gone down.

    That said, I still think Renault will take Petrov and Grosjean in 2012. After an unnecessary collision and subsequent drive-through at Interlagos, Bruno Senna has proven that he is only good at finishing in a lower place than he qualified in.

    28th November 2011, 17:04

    How the heck can you even confirm or impress at such horrible teams like HRT or Virgin? Only by out qualyfying ur team mate, which D’ambrosio did a couple of time, but these teams are in a league of their own, how can u know if a driver is good? He only gets to fight against 1 driver…

  32. In my opinion this really shows how desperate the bottom teams are, I only say this as they would only surely be taking him on account of sponership, as even though D’ambrosio wasn’t the best of the new teams, he still finished ahead of experienced team mate Glock, I would say that is an achievement in his first season, this does not reflect well on Marussia and does show some financial worries if they are prepared to sack a 2nd driver who beat the 1st driver, even if D’ambrosio does not get a drive next season he will be back.

  33. Team principal John Booth said: “We naturally keep a close eye on the junior formulae and Charles is certainly someone we have been watching over the past few years.


    Last time I checked you had only just finished your second season in Formula 1.

    1. @andrewtanner – Manor (the team that operates as Virgin) have several teams in junior categories: GP3, the F3 Euroseries and Formula Renault. They’ve run the likes of Hamilton, Raikkonen, di Resta and Robert Merhi.

  34. cant really add to this apart from this, maybe virgin, marussia should just get out of F1, cos lets face it there a bit of a joke

  35. HAHA, I just saw a video of him on youtube…He still looks like a kid. I mean, is this formula1 or a kindergarden??? It’s ridiculous, but it will be fun to watch, how slow he will be in Melbourne.My bet is 15 secs of the pace at least and a spin for every lap on the circuit HAHAHA

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