Sakon Yamamoto will act as Virgin Racing's reserve driver at the opening F1 2011 race in Australia this week and for the next two rounds in Malaysia and China, it has been announced.

The 28-year-old has competed in a total of 21 F1 Grand's Prix since 2006 and his most recent experience was gained with Hispania where, as test driver, he substituted for the team's regular drivers Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok at several of the races during the second half of last season.

"I am pleased to work with Marussia Virgin Racing in Australia. I really appreciate them giving me a chance to be here," said the Japanese driver. "The team has made a big step forward this year and I believe that I can contribute to their car development through my experience.

"As everyone is aware it is a very difficult time in Japan right now and any good news is much welcomed.

"I hope the people back home will feel positive about my latest F1 role as I would like to do everything possible to help them."

"We are delighted to welcome Sakon Yamamoto to Marussia Virgin Racing as our Reserve Driver for the first three race weekends," added team principal, John Booth.

"Sakon will spend the weekends observing the race drivers and attending all engineering meetings to ensure he is up to speed should there be an occasion where a last minute substitution is required."

Yamamoto's appointment though looks unlikely to be extended beyond China, as Virgin are aiming to use a number of reserves in 2011.

"In keeping with our commitment to nurturing young talent, our Reserve Driver strategy is to help a number of drivers gain hard to come by track time and so we will be operating a roster featuring a number of racers that we are interested in evaluating during the forthcoming season," Booth confirmed.