Belgian Jerome D’Ambrosio will replace Lucas di Grassi at Marussia Virgin Racing for the 2011 Formula One season.
The 25 year old is not new to the team, having completed testing duties at the final four Grands Prix of 2010, as well as the recent Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test.
D’Ambrosio also held the position of test and reserve driver at Renault F1 during the season, and is managed by Gravity Sport Management (which is owned by Lotus Renault GP co-owners Genii Capital).
D’Ambrosio enters Formula One after three seasons in GP2 with DAMS, where he scored a best championship result of ninth.
His resume also includes stints in GP2 Asia, International Formula Master, World Series by Renault, Euroseries F3000 and Formula Renault 2.0.
Marussia Virgin Racing team principal John Booth said that the team had been impressed by D’Ambrosio’s testing performances this year.
“Jerome had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat,” said Booth.
“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.
“He has secured this seat absolutely on merit and I think coupled with Timo and Luiz (Razia, the team’s new test and reserve driver) 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.”
D’Ambrosio emphasised how well he had fitted into the team during the latter stages of 2010.
“I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula One race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing,” he said.
“When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for.
“I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat but at the same time I 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 and team-mate Timo Glock will get their first taste of the 2011 VR02 when testing kicks off at Valencia in February.