Jerome D'Ambrosio began his F1 career 'proper' today during the opening day of testing at Valencia in Spain.

The Belgian, who took part in four Friday practice sessions at the end of 2010 and who was confirmed by Virgin just before Christmas, completed 71 laps in total at the wheel of the squad's 2010 car, the VR-01.

He spent the day working through a 'detailed programme' of systems evaluation and tyre testing with the new-for-2011 Pirelli rubber, finishing up seventh overall - his best lap a 1 minute 16.003 seconds.

"Today was an excellent day and I was really looking forward to driving the car for the first time as a F1 driver," he reflected. "It really is an amazing feeling and I'm really excited for the season ahead.

"I think today was a good start. I'm getting used to the Pirelli tyres and working really well with the team, who are doing a great job."

Team-mate Timo Glock will now take over from D'Ambrosio for the second and third days of testing at Valencia, where he will continue to evaluate new parts ahead of the roll-out of the new MVR-02 next week in Jerez.

"It's great to be back," added Virgin team principal John Booth. "We are really looking forward to our second season in F1. Jerome did a very good job today in the car and I'm really pleased with how the team is working.

"We have started out on the right note but there is still a lot to be done. We are heading in the right direction and I'm very pleased with the way things are progressing at this very early stage."

TO SEE THE FULL DAY ONE TESTING TIMES FROM CIRCUIT RICARDO TORMO NEAR VALENCIA, CLICK HERE

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