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Jerome D’Ambrosio confirmed as Glock’s team mate at Virgin
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Jerome D’Ambrosio confirmed as Glock’s team mate at Virgin
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Dec 2010   |  12:04 pm GMT  |  53 comments

The Virgin Racing team has fulfilled its promise of announcing the driver line up for 2011 ahead of Christmas. This morning 25 year old Jerome d’Ambrosio was confirmed in the seat alongside Timo Glock at Virgin.

D’Ambrosio did some Friday running for the team at the end of the season where he was evaluated. He ran in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil car at the Abu Dhabi young guns test in November. The Belgian has spent the last four seasons racing in GP2, a former team mate of Kamui Kobayashi at DAMS, he is managed by Gravity Sports management, which is part of the empire of Gerard Lopez, owner of the Lotus Renault GP team. Next season the Virgin team will have the support of Russian carmaker Marussia.

The move means no place for former Renault Driver Development Programme graduate Lucas di Grassi, who struggled to match Glock’s pace this season.

Team principal John Booth said, “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.”

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53 Comments
  1. Galapago555 says:

    So congrats to Jerome.

    James, do you know when are Toro Rosso confirming their line up for 2011? I’m waiting for Alguersuari to be confirmed – I trust there will be no problem, but as far as I know they have not confirmed any driver yet.

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    1. James Allen says:

      Well they already did earlier in the year, but there now seems to be some doubt. Maybe they are waiting until testing starts to evaluate better

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      1. Galapago555 says:

        Thanks for the info. I knew about the any anouncement they did earlier, but as you say now they seem to be hesitating…

        I wish the best luck for Jaime!

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    2. Frenchie says:

      I think this just leaves Force India, HRT and one of the Renault… err… Lotus Renault GP to confirmed alongside Toro Rosso.

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      1. Galapago555 says:

        Yep, you’re right. Robert Kubica’s team mate is to be confirmed, as are both Force Indias and the two pay-drivers of HRT.

        Btw, are HRT to start next season? I’ve read on Spanish media that Super Aguri could be trying to buy the team.

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      2. James Allen says:

        I think they will try to use an updated version of this year’s car. It’s about survival

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      3. Nick F says:

        “updated version of this year’s car”

        Holy cr*p! What’s the point of that then? I remember when Super Aguri ran Honda’s old car the first year and that worked out well for them because that car had been good in the previous season. This is not that situation though. The HRT sucked. …Ok it was somewhat better by the end of the year, but it still sucked.

        James aren’t they bringing back the 107% rule for 2011? Isn’t there a serious possibility they won’t qualify for any races? Presumably they won’t run KERS, so that’s 0.5 a second gone already.

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      4. six tenths says:

        James, my crystal ball is not as well informed as yours, but I am seeing that an updated version of last years car is going to struggle to make the 107% cut is it not ? They utterly failed to develop the car this year, so, if they do manage to make the cut early on in the season, they surely will not later on and there is little Charity in the pitlane.

        So, it is pointless and they are wasting everybody’s time and a lot of their own money ?

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      5. James Allen says:

        I think you are right that they may struggle to hit the 107%. In fact I think that the gap between the top teams and the midfield/backmarkers will grow in 2011.

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  2. Michael T says:

    I am familiar with the name but not really any history….. does D’Ambrosio have the potential to become more of a fixture in F1 or is he likely to be another one/two season driver and then be replaced?

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  3. Ben G says:

    Have had the pleasure of being driven round the Hungaroring by him. Not only was he exceedingly fast, but a very nice chap too. I hope he does well next year.

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    1. Frenchie says:

      Nice one mate. May I ask what the occasion was? Is it the Renault F1 days featured a few month ago in F1 racing?

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      1. Ben G says:

        Indeed, that very day in fact. Dunno if Renault (sorry, Lotus Renault) will carry on the programme, but if they do it’s well worth it. Go to Albania and sell a kidney if you must. Makes you realise how superhuman those drivers are. And that F1 2010 is great, but nowt like the real thing…

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      2. Frenchie says:

        Thanks for the reply Ben G.

        How did you purchase this F1 experience? I didn’t find anything on the RenaultF1 and Hungarinfo websites.

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      3. Sammy says:

        Hi Ben,

        Did you actually pay those 5500 euro’s?

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  4. Paul says:

    An interesting choice. I was expecting Aleshin to get the drive given the Russian connection.

    Still, d’Ambrosio has never really impressed me much. This is the man that was replaced for the German GP2 event to give him a kick up the behind. Still, Jerome could end up being a Kobayashi and stun everyone when his junior record isn’t fantastic.

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  5. Alan Dove says:

    I do feel for Lucas as he was the only rookie of the new teams who’d have an experienced F1 driver as a team mate throughout the season. Added to the fact the team were brand new, and you have a recipe for a non-year.

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    1. Anthony says:

      Well… Bruno senna had Klien a couple of times.

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  6. Ginger says:

    I wonder if his ‘off’ in Japan before the race sealed his fate?

    It was a moment not to forget so we can thank him for that! Joking aside he faced a challenge not unlike Petrov’s. Timo is underrated and Virgin are lucky to have him.

    Good luck to Jerome.

    Ginger.

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  7. jmv says:

    I rate this guy very high I hope he goes better than DiGrassi.. but the hotshoe out there must be Jean Eric Vergne.

    Also I’d rather see Aleshin in F1 than Petrov

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    1. S.J.M says:

      We’l find out tomorrow, supposedly when Petrov is reveiling where he wil be.

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      1. jmv says:

        indeed am curious about Petrov’s plans for the future… normally teams announce press conferences to confirm their plan with a driver… here is the other way around…

        doesn’t bode too well for Petrov (observing it all from my arm chair)

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  8. tblincoe says:

    I for one think its a shame di Grassi is now out of the Virgin seat.

    Considering di Grassi’s rookie status as compared to Glock’s experience, I don’t know how you can claim di Grassi “struggled” to match Glock’s pace this year. To illustrate, Glock only had a season average BPR rating of 50.269 to di Grassi’s 47.177; that small of a difference over the course of a 19 race season is hardly struggling in my book.

    But then again, we all know F1 drives have always been about more than just performance…

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  9. Richard Bell says:

    He’s been in GP2 for 4 seasons and only won once, nice choice Virgin. John Booth also said “Jerome has secured this seat absolutely on merit”, when someone says that you know it’s a pay driver.

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  10. Eric Weinraub says:

    I remember how we used to turn our noses up at the likes of Pedro Dinitz and the whole pay driver fiasco. Now there are 4 teams who pay their drivers and the rest who rent at least one seat.

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    1. Galapago555 says:

      Fully agree, mate.

      Many pay drivers, being the only reason that F1 cars are today too easy to drive. In the good old days it was not enough to have loads of money: excellent driving skills, as well as balls, were needed. And there were very few pay drivers, were there?

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  11. Shame for di Grassi but I guess after his crash in Japan on the way to the grid things got slightly complicated for him. One of those things – some make it and some don’t. JDA may surprise us all I think. A driver doesn’t have to win all junior formulae to be successful in F1, sometimes a fairly unknown guy can come along a blow everybody away.

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    1. onyx says:

      but not in this case me thinks!

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      1. I’ll eat my hair or run around naked any track in Spain or Portugal if JDA doesn’t score points next year. Go VR and JDA!

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      2. Galapago555 says:

        Ok, Iberian M.P.H., we will keep this post just in case that JDA doesn’t score any point next season… LOL

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      3. I’m quite confident JDA won’t let me down but just in case I’ll demand presence of international media – it makes no sense eating hair or performing “hot” laps on my own. I’ll gladly record a video for this site but I doubt James will want to feature it.

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  12. MIKE LEA says:

    Nick Heidfeld would have been a far better signing: bags and bags of experience and far more likely to bring the car home in a crazy race and maybe even sneak a point. Two experienced drivers would move the team forwards more swiftly. Guess the bean counters had their day, though……but it’s no surprise Lotus did better in 2010 given the greater experience of their drivers.

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  13. is it just me that does not find this news interesting ? :)

    Matt

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    1. Mee says:

      Trust me, as a Belgian this is huge news :).

      The first Belgian F1 since 1994.

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      1. Fair point mate!

        good luck to him.

        Matt

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      2. Frenchie says:

        Who was the last one? Was this Thierry Boutsen?

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      3. James Allen says:

        Philippe Adams – Lotus driver, in case you were guessing..

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      4. six tenths says:

        Bertrand Gachot actually, ’95 in a Pacific, Phillipe Adams was in the heady days of ’94 when Belgium had both these 2 drivers in F1.

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  14. Bob says:

    Jerome d’Ambrosio – Devon knows how they made him so creamy!

    Sorry, couldnt resist a custard based joke . . .

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    1. Stevie P says:

      I was going to post about rice pudding or something along those lines, but you’ve beaten me to it… :-)

      I don’t have a problem with this appointment at all; although I didn’t think DiGrassi had done a bad job in 2010.

      There’s got to be some new fresh blood coming in; Rubens won’t be around for much longer, nor Webber or Schumi. And the new, younger teams are the best place to start… a bit like Minardi, they were never going to win a race, but they were a seat for a driver to showcase his talents and then move on from there.

      Best wishes to Jerome for the season ahead.

      But the one I wish to see in F1 is DiResta!

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  15. Jake says:

    James,

    We haven’t had the article as to why next season won’t be the same as this in response to the article the other day…will we be waiting long, as you can tell, im struggling with the lack of F1.

    Cheers, keep up the good work

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    1. Robert S says:

      also have you seen the changes to the cars? going back to the 80’s aero

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9307861.stm

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      1. Y AlMansour says:

        OMG , if this is true (5 seconds slower ) !? full throttle to be cut from around 70% per lap to 50% ?
        are they serious ? what are they thinking ? are GP2 races really going to be aroumd same level as F1 ? Come on !

        I always think why on earth wouldn’t they set only 1 goal in mind when making regulations : how do we make these thing go faster? of course while maintaining safety as it is currently ( which is great).

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      2. Robert S says:

        I think the reduction to 50% will be better as, the driver cant just floor it out of corners they have to control the power. if the cars had these aero rules with the current engines or if the new engines eventually will be as powerful as the previous turbos then they will be great!

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2010/12/formula_1_is_undergoing_a_quie.html

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      3. kowalsky says:

        when the fia use their brains, the fans suffer the consecuences. If they keep upseting the hardcore fans just to please the mainstream, the outcome will be empty grandstands.
        The cars look and sound slow now, how is it going to be in 2013?
        What is next wiseguys? female drivers, and men holding the grid boards.
        Shame on you.

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    2. Galapago555 says:

      Second that.

      James, the in-laws are about to come! Please, keep posting this fantastic stuff!

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  16. fausta says:

    It is almost as if there is a driver lottery and they are looking for the lucky “next big thing”.
    I don’t see (other than for financial reasons) why they don’t just stick to a couple drivers for their first few seasons and develop their program together. Next season will be the same, another rookie at he back of the grid. He doesn’t bring any experience to help them along as in Lotus’ case.

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  17. Frenchie says:

    Jerome d’Ambrosio seemed to perform well in Singapore’s free practice 1. He looked more assured than Di Grassi.

    Considering his track record in GP2, let’s hope he proves to be as entertaining as Kamui Kobayashi.

    Good luck to him.

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  18. Peter says:

    I thought Di Grassi did a solid but unspectacular job but it’s worth a punt with D’Ambrosio

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  19. jeroen says:

    I hope the Belgians can finally relive te beautiful days of Ickx and Boutsen but I doubt d’Ambrosio has what it takes. But he deserves the time to prove himself now he has been given the chance.

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  20. Sammy says:

    does someone knows the amount d’Ambrosio had to pay to buy he’s seat?

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    1. asc says:

      5 million euro in sponsorship.

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