D'Ambrosio debuts for Virgin Racing

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Singapore, Marina Bay Street Circuitsg

Virgin Racing had a new driver in the car today after signing Jerome D'Ambrosio to run on Fridays for the remainder of the season. He dove in first practice and ended 0.2s down on Timo Glock. Di Grassi took over in the evening,

A heavy downpour before the start of first free practice for Sunday's Singapore Grand Prix meant that the track would be wet for the start of the session, which was to be the first for Virgin Racing's new reserve driver Jerome d'Ambrosio.

After exploratory laps on wet tyres, the lap times started to drop, with Timo sitting at the top of the timesheets for quite a while as he relished the damp conditions on a circuit he enjoys. Jerome also drove well, completing 16 laps without a problem.

For the second session, Lucas was back in the car and keen to make up track time. Both he and Timo were able to work through a series of changes, but a steering problem prevented Timo from setting a representative time on the faster Option tyres. Timo and Lucas finished as 2nd and 3rd fastest of the drivers in the new teams section and both are looking forward to improving the car tomorrow.

Timo Glock, Race Driver #24:
“I had quite a good session in Free Practice 1 and some fun in the wet conditions. It was good to see my name at the top of the timesheets for so much of the session. We were quite competitive in the mixed conditions. It was a bit of a shame that we couldn’t go out for the last 10 minutes when the track was getting quicker and quicker. FP2 looked okay too. We had a straightforward programme. The car is a bit nervous at the rear and therefore difficult to drive, but we will find a way to improve it for tomorrow.”

Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25:
“It was always going to be a challenge to get up to speed in just the afternoon session, particularly as I haven’t raced here before, but I am pleased with the work we achieved here today. The track was very damp to start with, which made it even harder, and we had a few issues with the balance of the car, so we have some work to do to improve the car for tomorrow.”

Jerome D’Ambrosio, Reserve Driver:
“It is difficult for any driver to adequately describe the feeling of driving an F1 car - the awesome power and enormous braking in particular - but combined with the whole night race experience as well, today has been a very special day for me. The conditions this morning were very tricky so there was a lot to get to grips with and it was always going to take time to get up to speed. When the track did dry out my times started to drop and I was really pleased with where I ended up. It has been a good start for me and I’m looking forward to continually improving during the Friday morning sessions of the next three races. I would like to thank the team for looking after me so well. They are a great bunch of people and I am enjoying being part of Virgin Racing.”

John Booth, Team Principal:
“We are extremely pleased with how the day has gone. We’ve shown some good pace today on both wet and dry tyres and all three drivers did a very professional job in difficult conditions. We do have a few issues to resolve before tomorrow’s running, but generally a good start to the weekend. This morning Jerome did a fantastic job for his first time out in the car, particularly as there was a lot of media attention on him. To achieve the time he set and be the quickest of the three ‘Friday drivers’ was fantastic for him. Timo was pretty happy with his car on the prime tyres and his time was impressive, but he had an imbalance on the car which prevented him from improving on his time on the option tyre. Lucas got up to speed quickly in free practice 2, but was also unable to get the best out of his option tyre run.”