Belgian rookie Jerome d’Ambrosio has signed to compete for Virgin Racing in the 2011 F1 championship, replacing Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi.

The 25-year-old GP2 veteran concluded an evaluation role with the team over the final races of 2010, taking part in the Free Practice 1 in Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil. He also conducted a further half day programme at the wheel of the VR-01 machine during the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test following the season-closing race. He will join the already-confirmed Timo Glock at the British team.

Credit: GP2 Media Service

“When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for,” said d’Ambrosio. “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.”

“Jerome had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat,” said team boss John 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 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.”

Over three seasons in GP2 d’Ambrosio has taken one race win, with a best overall finish of 9th in the 2009 campaign. He was paired with Kamui Kobayashi for both 2008 and ’09, finishing ahead of the Sauber racer in both seasons.