Lucas Di Grassi has confirmed that he will
join the grand prix grid in 2010, and whilst he refused to elaborate upon whom he would be joining with – save to say that it will be one of the four newcomers – the smart money all points to Virgin Racing.
Following three successful years in the feeder GP2 Series – finishing as runner-up for ART Grand Prix in 2007, and subsequently third for Campos Grand Prix and Racing Engineering in 2008 and 2009 respectively – and a stint as test and reserve driver at Renault F1, Di Grassi is one of the most promising young drivers bubbling just under the surface of the top flight, and now it appears he is to be given his opportunity.
“I'll be in Formula 1 next year,” the 25-year-old told Brazilian television station Globo
. “It will be in one of the four new teams entering the sport. It's a dream come true, of course – it's fantastic. I am well-prepared; I was reserve and test driver at Renault for two years. My aim is to enter F1 to stay, in a solid way, to get results and a future.”
Di Grassi has been increasingly linked with Virgin – as it will be officially known from Tuesday, after going into partnership with Manor Grand Prix – since the Sheffield-based outfit's team principal John Booth enigmatically revealed that 'there is a possibility he may have won the Macau Grand Prix before', when pressed about the identity of Toyota refugee Timo Glock's likely team-mate in 2010.
São Paulo-born Di Grassi triumphed for Manor in the Far Eastern Portuguese enclave's prestigious annual F3 showpiece outing back in 2005, what Booth maintains to this day was 'the highlight of my racing career – a superb win' [see separate story – click here
The three other new arrivals next season will be USF1, Campos Meta 1 and Lotus F1, with Di Grassi's countryman and former GP2 Series rival Bruno Senna already confirmed at the Spanish operation.
Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes has revealed that Lotus will unveil its own full driver line-up for its maiden campaign on Monday, with Glock's former Toyota team-mate Jarno Trulli believed to be in pole position for one of the two seats, after the Malaysian told 422race.com
that he 'likes Italian drivers' and that 'experience is the most important thing for us, because it's a value you can't buy... Maybe we'll have Malaysian drivers in the future, but at the moment nationality isn't important for us.'
Homegrown favourite Fairuz Fauzy, late-season F1 2009 sensation Kamui Kobayashi and 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve have all been mentioned in connection with the second cockpit.