Jerome d’Ambrosio has admitted he secured his formula one race debut with Virgin in 2011 by taking a commercial package to the new British team.
When the Belgian’s deal was announced earlier this week, team boss John Booth insisted the 24-year-old – who completed the 2010 season as a Friday driver – had been selected “absolutely on merit”.
But a few weeks ago, reports said the Virgin cockpit alongside Timo Glock next year was up for grabs for EUR 5 million.
And at the end of October, d’Ambrosio’s management – the Gravity group which is managed by Renault team boss Eric Boullier – said it had pulled together “95 per cent of the package” required.
“Of course there is talent, but also a commercial aspect,” d’Ambrosio confirmed this week to RTL Belgium.
“There are people, partners who are working with me in Belgium, as well as Gravity, who are always working with me, with Eric Boullier.”
D’Ambrosio said: “We managed to put together the package we needed to be able to sign.”
He said he sees his 2011 debut with Virgin as the first step to a long career in F1.
“I jumped like a kangaroo!” joked d’Ambrosio, recalling hearing the news that he had secured the seat.
“It’s exceptional, extraordinary, but not an end in itself, because you have to have new goals now — and it is to stay (in F1) for as long as possible.
“At the moment we have a great outcome. Since I was little, I have dreamed of being in F1, and since 16, it has been my goal.”
As for his approach to 2011, the Belgian explained: “The most important thing is to focus on myself, learning something each time I go onto the track.
“I am fortunate to have Timo Glock beside me, who has had some podiums in grands prix. This will be a valuable experience for me.”
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