Lucas Di Grassi Joins Timo Glock at Virgin Racing

Gareth Llewellyn-StevensCorrespondent IDecember 15, 2009

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  (L-R) Designer Nick Wirth, driver Lucas Di Grassi of Brazil, Sir Richard Branson, driver Timo Glock of Germany and Manor Motorsport owner John Booth attend the media launch for the new Virgin Racing team at the Louise Blouin Foundation on December 15, 2009 in Notting Hill, London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Virgin Racing has announced that former Renault reserve driver Lucas Di Grassi will join their new team for the 2010 season.

The newly-formed Manor team, rebranded as Virgin Racing, today revealed that the former GP2 champion will partner German driver Timo Glock.

Their announcement comes just a day after fellow newcomers Lotus F1 revealed an experienced driver line up of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen.

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group sponsored Brawn last season, but following a buy out from automotive manufacturer Mercedes, opeted to find a new team to back, but this time renaming the team.

Branson's team have said Manor "a new team for a new era" with a nod towards the huge cost-saving measures now in place in Formula One.

Despite the rejection of a budget cap, the teams have agreed to restrict budgets to "mid-1990s levels" with the bigger teams still commanding a budget in excess of £100 million.

Despite the backing of a major international brand able to outspend any of the current teams in F1, Branson is keen to get behind new teams with limited resources, as he did with Brawn, who were the success story of 2009 as they won both the drivers' and constructors' world championship in their first season.

The circumstances behind the new Manor team are different to those behind Brawn last season, but Branson's marketability and business acumen will be invaluable to any new team, and of course, he is backing another British team, based in Oxfordshire.

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Glock and Di Grassi will be joined at Virgin Racing by GP2 drivers Alvaro Parente and Luiz Razia as reserve drivers.

John Booth, the former world champion, is the man behind Manor, and has worked with Di Grassi before, but former Benetton designer Nick Wirth will design their 2010 challenger without a wind tunnel.

Glock moves from being second driver at Toyota behind Trulli to being the main man at Virgin, and has three podium finishes from his 35 race starts. It will be his job to help develop the car throughout the season and provide a benchmark to Di Grassi, with focus perhaps gearing towards a more competitive 2011 car.

Di Grassi and Glock know each other well from the 2007 GP2 Series, which Glock beat his new team mate to.

The Brazilian tested in F1 alongside compatriot Bruno Senna at Honda in 2008, recording a lap time 0.5 seconds behind 2009 world champion Jenson Button, and 0.2 seconds slower than Senna.

Senna has also joined F1 for 2010 with the Campos Meta team, former owners of Di Grassi's 2008 GP2 team.


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