Jerome d’Ambrosio will replace Virgin regular Lucas di Grassi for four of the remaining five Friday morning practice sessions in 2010.
Recent speculation hinted at the possibility of a 2011 race seat for the Belgian GP2 driver, whose manager has revealed he has already raised the majority of the necessary budget.
Manager Yves Decorte told a newspaper last week: “And if we can do it quickly, he might even be able to drive on a Friday morning at the end of the season.”
But Virgin has not confirmed that the Gravity-managed d’Ambrosio, 24, is definitely replacing Brazilian rookie di Grassi next year.
“We have a contract with Timo Glock for another two years and an option on the services of Lucas di Grassi for next year,” insisted team chief executive Graeme Lowdon.
“Both drivers have done an outstanding job for us in our debut season.”
The new British team said d’Ambrosio has been signed only “in an evaluation role” for the forthcoming rounds in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil, explaining that Virgin “will be using this opportunity to evaluate Jerome’s potential”.
D’Ambrosio, who started the 2010 season as a Renault test driver, will also contest the end-of-season young driver test after the Abu Dhabi season finale, Virgin announced.
“We are always looking to progress new racing talent and the team out of which Virgin Racing was born has a long history of this,” added Lowdon.
D’Ambrosio said: “My ultimate goal has always been to race in formula one and I am delighted to get a step closer. Looking at the 2011 season, this will be very useful.”
Also in Abu Dhabi for the end-of-season Abu Dhabi test will be Dean Stoneman, who secures the Williams outing as a prize for becoming the new F2 champion.
© RIF | GMM