Di Grassi to partner Glock at Virgin Racing
"to secure a blend of youth and experience"
Lucas di Grassi is stepping up to an F1 race seat with the all-new Virgin Racing Formula 1 team. The 25 year old Brazilian was announced as the team’s second driver at today’s official launch in London where he was introduced as wing-man to his old sparring partner Timo Glock.
The team’s driver line-up strategy has been to secure a blend of youth and experience. This dynamic duo not only ticks those boxes but also promises to be one of the most exciting pairings on the 2010 grid. GP2 fans will recall a battle royal the last time they went head to head in the ’07 Championship, with Timo just pipping Lucas to the Championship post.
Since then, Lucas has continued to impress in the Formula 1 feeder series. For the past three years he has finished in the top three championship positions, each time with a different team. He scored wins in every year, notably at Spa-Francorchamps and Istanbul. For ’09 he landed himself that all-important test seat with Renault, having been part of their driver development programme since 2005. He tested the ’09 Renault F1 car in Jerez earlier this month and most recently won the Granja Viaj 500 kart race, partnering his countryman Felipe Massa.
Rewind five years and Lucas was enrolling in the John Booth school of excellence - the Manor Motorsport F3 team that has stepped up to F1 competition in the form of Virgin Racing. Lucas won one race and ended the season third in the championship. At the end of the year he won the Macau Grand Prix with Manor from third on the grid, beating Robert Kubica and Sebastien Vettel who took the remaining podium positions. John Booth still considers this race to be “the highlight of my racing career”.
Nick Wirth, Technical Director of Virgin Racing, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lucas to Virgin Racing alongside our lead driver Timo Glock and our test and reserve drivers Alvaro Parente And Luiz Razia. Lucas brings an unprecedented amount of F1 experience for a rookie driver. John Booth rates him very highly indeed, citing a very precise level of technical feedback as one of his greatest strengths. He was selected to test the new GP2 car to be used for the championship from 2008 and we expect that he will make an important contribution to our car development programme. He also benefits from very recent experience of driving a current Formula 1 car. I have said many times today in the context of our launch that I am delighted by the way things have really come together for us as a new team and our driver line-up is no exception. I think we can expect Timo and Lucas to form a very strong partnership.”
Lucas di Grassi said: “I could never imagine a F1 debut as perfect as this one. Entering F1 with John Booth and his crew, the same people with whom I won the 2005 Macau F3 race –one of the greatest successes in my career – is really beyond perfection I should say. And I believe I am ready for F1. I have worked a lot during these years to get here and I believe it happened just in time. I always had great expectations about the day I would enter F1, and I should thanks everyone who was with me all these years, and I shall say John and his team are among those very people I consider helped me to get there much before we signed the F1 contract. Being here with them makes more sense to me than to be with a veteran organization. We will debut together, and that detail makes for a special bond too. I guess all that will make me stronger and more confident as I will be among old friends. I am ready to work twenty four seven and I am sure I will be able to contribute with the team efforts in every stage of our evolution in 2010.”