Perhaps signalling the possible impending end to Lucas di Grassi’s ongoing role with the team beyond 2010, Virgin Racing has announced that its reserve driver, Jerome  d’Ambrosio, will replace the Brazilian in four of the remaining five Friday morning practice sessions this season.

We reported recent paddock gossip that suggested the long-time GP2 stalwart could Jerome d'Ambrosiobe a candidate for a race seat with the rookie outfit next season, with his manager revealing that much of the budget allegedly required to do so had been secured.

D’Ambrosio’s manager, Yves Decorte, said last week: “And if we can do it quickly, he might even be able to drive on a Friday morning at the end of the season.”

And despite insisting that both di Grassi and his team-mate, Timo Glock, had done “an outstanding job this season”, the team’s CEO Graeme Lowdon, would not confirm that the Belgian driver was a candidate to replace di Grassi next season.

“We have a contract with Timo Glock for another two years and an option on the services of Lucas di Grassi for next year,” he said, giving no indication that the team had, or yet intended to, exercise that option.

The British team explained that d’Ambrosio’s new appointment would be to “evaluate [his] potential”.

The Gravity-managed d’Ambrosio started the 2010 season as a reserve driver for the Renault squad, later moving to Virgin Racing when the team’s never-used reserve driver, the 2009 Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek, quit the team.

Virgin Racing also confirmed that d’Ambrosio would test for the side at the season-ending Abu Dhabi test scheduled for all teams to evaluate young drivers.

[Original image via SPEEDTV]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.