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Pic replaces D’Ambrosio at Virgin for 2012 27 Nov 2011

Charles Pic (FRA) Virgin Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day One, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Tuesday, 15 November 2011 Charles Pic (FRA) Virgin Racing VR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day Two, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 Charles Pic (FRA) Virgin Racing VR-02.
Formula One Testing, Day Two, Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Wednesday, 16 November 2011 John Booth (GBR) Virgin Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 14 October 2011 Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing MVR-02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 25 November 2011

Virgin have announced that rising French talent Charles Pic will partner Timo Glock at the team next season, replacing Jerome D’Ambrosio. It follows a successful outing for Pic in the MVR-02 at the recent young driver test.

“I’m very happy to be making the step up to Formula One with Marussia Virgin Racing,” said the 21 year-old. “As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu Dhabi last week it was a tough test. The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job.

“I was pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too, so a very good start but this is just the beginning and I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to reward this chance.”

Pic has spent the past two seasons competing in GP2, and in 2011 ended the year fourth with two wins, three poles and five podiums. From 2008-2009 he raced in the World Series by Renault FR 3.5 championship and during the preceding two years graduated from karting to the French Formula Campus championship, before taking part in the French and European Formula Renault 2.0 series.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Charles to Marussia Virgin Racing as Timo’s team-mate for 2012,” said team principal John Booth. “We naturally keep a close eye on the junior formulae and Charles is certainly someone we have been watching over the past few years. The real barometer however was our young driver test in Abu Dhabi last week, where we put him through a series of tough tests to thoroughly evaluate his potential.

“This was his first time in a Formula One car so it should have been quite daunting, however Charles was extremely focused on what needed to be done and absolutely rose to the challenge. He continued to improve in every area but his race simulation work particularly caught our eye.”

Pic will spend the next few weeks with Virgin at their UK technical centre in Banbury, embedding himself within the team before pre-season testing begins in February next year.

“I like the team a lot; we worked well together in the test and I feel very comfortable,” continued Pic. “They want to do things the right way and I can see that there is a lot of determination to succeed, so it is very special for me to be part of that. I’m looking forward to working hard in every area over the winter to ensure I am ready for the start of testing and my first Grand Prix.”

Booth added: “Winter testing will be upon us before we know it, so it is actually a relatively short space of time ahead with a lot for Charles to get used to, but he is an extremely determined young guy and he worked very well with the team last week. He has an extremely mature head on young shoulders, so I have no doubt that he will be working very hard over the winter to prepare for his debut season.”

Pic’s signing leaves D’Ambrosio’s F1 future uncertain, despite the Belgian having finished one place above Glock in the final 2011 driver standings after completing his rookie season with Virgin.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jerome D’Ambrosio for his hard work and important contribution to our team over the past 12 months or more,” said Booth. “He has an exciting future to look forward to I’m sure and we wish him every success.”

Pic’s arrival means that next year the F1 grid will feature a French driver for the first time since 2009, when Sebastien Bourdais raced for Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean raced for Renault.

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