Andy Soucek has revealed that whilst he and Virgin Racing have prematurely parted company as F1 takes its annual mid-summer break, his 'priority' is to earn himself a race seat on the grand prix grid in 2011 – as he thanked the team for having not stood in the way of his ambitions.
Soucek joined Virgin back in February as the F1 2010 newcomer's reserve driver, and though he has attended all of the grands prix in the event that either Timo Glock or Lucas Di Grassi were unable to race, the Spaniard was never actually given the opportunity to try out the VR01 during practice – despite there reportedly having been guarantees in his contract of a certain number of days behind the wheel.
That led to an early separation announced this week [see separate story – click here
], but the reigning FIA Formula Two Champion has since spoken out to stress that his departure was not in any way acrimonious and indeed was by mutual agreement, explaining that he needs to keep himself race-sharp should a possibility arise to make his F1 debut next season.
“I asked them to give me the opportunity to continue to race in other categories and they accepted,” Soucek told Spanish sports newspaper AS
. “I'm thankful that they didn't cause me any trouble, which they could have done, to break the contractual relationship for good. There was no breach of any kind, and the experience has helped me to come to know F1. I wish Virgin all the best, and they wish the same for me.
“[The split] was friendly and nothing to do with [sponsor] payments or non-payments. I had the opportunity to race in Superleague (for Sporting CP at Zolder and Brands Hatch, impressively finishing on the podium in the latter outing) and enjoyed it very much. At the moment, I would rather race at a lower level than wait for something [at Virgin] that may never come.”
Fellow reserve driver Álvaro Parente similarly departed Virgin – after the Portuguese ace's key backer failed to produce the promised goods – back at the beginning of the year. Soucek, however, has insisted that his principal focus must be on his own career – though he shunned speculation linking him to the front-running ART Grand Prix GP2 Series berth left vacant by the injured Jules Bianchi.
“On this topic I have only read the rumours,” the 25-year-old urged. “No GP2 team has contacted me yet. My priority is to stay in the orbit of F1. I don't want people to think that the ending with Virgin means I will not return. I will keep trying to have a race seat in 2011.”