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Official: di Grassi to partner Glock at Virgin, Parente appointed test driver

NEWS STORY
15/12/2009

At this morning's media launch in London, Virgin Racing has officially confirmed that Brazilian Lucas di Grassi will partner Timo Glock in the team's debut season.

A number of drivers had been linked with the second seat, including Jacques Villeneuve, Nick Heidfeld and Russian GP2 star Vitaly Petrov. However, in recent days there has been growing speculation linking di Grassi - 2007 runner up in the GP2 Series and third in 2008 and 2009 - with the second seat.

di Grassi, who contested the 2005 F3 Euroseries with Manor Motorsport and went on to win the Macau Grand Prix, first tested an F1 car for Honda in 2008. He was subsequently recruited as test driver for the Japanese team, as was Bruno Senna, before switching to a similar role with Renault in 2009.

Billed the "worst kept secret in F1", the Virgin deal was made public by the FIA when it announced the official 2010 entry list at the end of last month. Manor Racing, one of four new teams due to enter F1 next season, has signed a major deal with Richard Branson's empire giving the British company the right to re-name it Virgin Racing. Yesterday it was revealed that the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group has taken a stake in the outfit.

The team also named Portuguese hot-shot Alvaro Parente as its test driver. Winner of the 2005 British F3 Championship and the 2007 World Series by Renault, Parente finished 8th in the 2009 GP2 Series with Ocean Racing Technology while also contesting the Estoril rounds of the 2009 Superleague Formula season for his team, FC Porto. The 25-year-old winning the second race on his Superleague debut.

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