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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 20 September 2010 12:28 UK

Jerome D'Ambrosio & Esteban Gutierrez win F1 test roles

Jerome D'Ambrosio
Jerome has held the reserve and test driver role at Renault this season

Virgin Racing have signed Belgian GP2 driver Jerome D'Ambrosio in an evaluation role for four of the five remaining Formula 1 races this season.

The 25-year-old will take part in the Friday morning first practice sessions at Singapore, Japan, Korea and Brazil.

D'Ambrosio has spent four seasons in the GP2 feeder series and is a reserve and test driver at Renault.

Sauber have also enhanced their line-up by signing Mexican Esteban Gutierrez as their test and reserve driver for 2011.

The 19-year-old won this season's inaugural GP3 series and has impressed Sauber after spending the campaign with the Swiss team as an affiliated driver.

Esteban Gutierrez (left) celebrates his GP3 win with Sauber boss Peter Sauber
Peter Sauber (right) hopes GP3 champion Gutierrez (left) will fulfil his promise

Sauber have re-signed Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi for 2011 but have not yet announced their second driver. The team have replaced Pedro de la Rosa with Nick Heidfeld for the final five races of this season.

D'Ambrosio will begin his work with Virgin straight away by running alongside Timo Glock in first practice for this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix before handing the reins back to Lucas di Grassi for the remainder of the race weekend

"This drive is a fantastic opportunity and I am looking forward to helping the team in every way I can," said D'Ambrosio, who joins Virgin Racing's existing reserve driver Luis Razia.

"My ultimate goal has always been to race in Formula 1 and I am delighted to get a step closer.

"Looking at the 2011 season, this will be very useful. Also I will be very proud to wear the Belgian colours on my helmet during these official practice sessions, as it means a lot to me."

Virgin Racing chief executive Graeme Lowdon commented: "We are always looking to progress new racing talent and the team out of which Virgin Racing was born has a long history of this. Jerome is a real racer and very deserving of the opportunity."


D'Ambrosio will also get the chance to shine in the young driver tests sessions taking place in Abu Dhabi after November's final grand prix of the season.

Gutierrez will also take part in those tests behind the wheel of the Sauber after signing as reserve driver for 2011.

"I'm really grateful to Peter Sauber for his confidence in me and my ability," said Gutierrez, who has begun learning the ropes with access to the team's garage, pit radio and technical briefings.

Team boss Peter Sauber added: "Esteban is extremely mature for his age and we are confident he will continue to develop strongly.

"With his modest manner and keen desire to learn, he has also made himself very popular among the team."

In August, reigning Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek terminated his contract as Virgin Racing's third and reserve driver, citing a lack of test driving opportunities this season.

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see also
Virgin Racing
14 Nov 10 |  Drivers & Teams
Di Grassi joins new Virgin team
15 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Manor set for Virgin rebranding
30 Nov 09 |  Formula 1

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