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Di Grassi loses Virgin race seat to Belgian rookie d'Ambrosio

Jerome d'Ambrosio will race in F1 for the first time next year after being named as Virgin Racing's second driver.
Jerome d'Ambrosio will race in F1 for the first time next year after being named as Virgin Racing's second driver.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Belgium's Jerome D'Ambrosio will partner Timo Glock at Virgin Racing
  • British-based F1 team failed to score a point in debut season in 2010
  • The 24-year-old former Renault test driver replaces Brazilian Lucas di Grassi
  • Four other teams are yet to complete their lineups for the 2011 championship

(CNN) -- Belgian driver Jerome d'Ambrosio will partner Germany's Timo Glock at Virgin Racing in 2011, completing the Formula One team's lineup for next season.

D'Ambrosio, who turns 25 on December 27, replaces Brazilian Lucas di Grassi after the British-based team failed to score a single point in its F1 debut season.

A former test driver for the Renault F1 team, d'Ambrosio took part in Friday practice sessions with Virgin prior to races in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Brazil this year.

He also completed a post-season test with the Cosworth-powered team in Abu Dhabi last month, before being unveiled on Tuesday.

"I'm thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat. When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for," d'Ambrosio told the official F1 website.

It is exciting to think that I can be a part of shaping the team's future
--Virgin's Jerome d'Ambrosio
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"I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat, but 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."

D'Ambrosio, who has spent the last four seasons competing at GP2 level, will be the first driver from his country to race in F1 since Philippe Adams represented Lotus in 1994.

He will commence pre-season testing alongside Glock in Spain in February, after the launch of Virgin's new Marussia Motors-sponsored racing car in January.

Glock retains Virgin drive for 2011

"Jerome had been on our radar as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat," Virgin team principal John Booth said.

"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.

"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."

There are now only seven out of a possible 25 race seats available for next season, with di Grassi one of the drivers still trying to clinch a place on the grid along with former Williams rookie Nico Hulkenberg.

Force India, Hispania Racing and Toro Rosso have yet to announce their lineups, with Renault also to confirm who will partner Robert Kubica ahead of the 2011 season-opener in Bahrain in March.