Andy Soucek has admitted that he is ready to immerse himself in a heavy workload to ensure that he makes the most of the opportunity he has been given by Virgin Racing ahead of the team's maiden Formula One campaign.
The Spaniard, who replaced Alvaro Parente as one of the British team's back-up drivers, could not say when he would get his first run in the new VR-01, but confirmed that he would be present at this week's final pre-season test in Barcelona before taking on his developmental role in the coming weeks and months.
”I am not 100 per cent sure yet [when I will test the car], but it will be very soon," he revealed, "I will be with the team in Barcelona later this week and I cannot wait to get my first experience in the car.
"Having previously tested with Toyota and, more recently, with Williams, it will be fantastic to drive another F1 car. I am excited to see and feel how the car behaves and then, hopefully, I will be able to assist the team in developing the car further. Coming into a team that is new on the grid is very exciting as you really feel that you can make a difference.”
Having apparently lost his way after two seasons of GP2, Soucek took the bold step of trying to relaunch his F1 bid via the new F2 championship in 2009 and was rewarded by claiming the title. Despite that, however, he appeared to have missed out on several high-profile F1 seats before landing at Virgin, and admits that he is delighted to have finally made it to the top flight, even as a reserve.
As well as filling the back-up role, he will provide valuable car development support back at the team's technical base in Bicester, assisting in the ongoing simulator programme alongside race drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi between grands prix.
"It feels great," he told the official F2 website, "I couldn't quite believe it, even as I was signing the contract. To have joined an F1 team and knowing that I could be competing in grands prix if I am required is a fantastic feeling.
"It will be a difficult job, but I know that I will learn a lot in preparation for racing in F1. One of the key aspects that excited me about this project is that I will be heavily involved with the team from the outset. I will get to use the simulator, I will be at every test and grand prix, and I will be in every meeting between the drivers and engineers, so I will be a real member of the team.”
Soucek was, naturally, keen to thank the F2 series for the role it had played in helping him achieve his ambition, and heartily recommended it to other young talents.