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Parente no longer a Virgin as deal falls through; Soucek to benefit?

18 February 2010

Alvaro Parente's test driving agreement with F1 2010 newcomer Virgin Racing looks to have turned sour before the season has even got underway, with the revelation that the GP2 Series and A1GP World Cup of Motorsport race-winner has lost his spot after one of his key sponsors failed to produce the promised goods – as reigning FIA Formula Two Champion Andy Soucek prepares to step in.

Parente was unveiled as one of Virgin's two test drivers for the forthcoming campaign alongside Luiz Razia at the team's official London launch back in mid-December, and many viewed the opportunity as a justified promotion for one of the most highly-regarded young stars currently bubbling under.

However, the failure of the Institute for Tourism of Portugal (ITP) to see through its commitment of financial support to the 25-year-old – reportedly neglecting to fill in the necessary contractual paperwork to seal the deal, and thereby reneging on its prior memorandum of understanding – has left Parente high-and-dry, and dashed his dream of finally becoming a part of the F1 circus.

“ITP decided, for reasons that I and my representatives are unaware of, not to fulfill the agreement with Virgin Racing,” the understandably disappointed and frustrated Porto native explained in an interview with sports newspaper A Bola. “My representatives, as well as those of Virgin Racing, have tried repeatedly to contact ITP officials, but have never been able to get any reply.

“The behaviour of ITP and the consequences have caused damage to my career, and means that I will have to start from the beginning in terms of acquiring relevant backing and undergoing negotiations to further myself. It is irresponsible of ITP to shun their commitments in this manner – and for me very aggravating.”

Parente's bad news, however, might yet transpire to be good news for Soucek, who appears to be on the verge of agreeing terms to be Virgin's reserve driver in 2010, with Spanish sports daily AS claiming that the 24-year-old has grown 'tired of waiting for Campos' and has 'no confidence' that the beleaguered Madrid-based outfit will complete or even start the season, after he was linked with the vacant race cockpit there alongside fellow F1 rookie Bruno Senna.

“I think to be third driver is a job I deserve,” Soucek mused of the Virgin possibility, “and I do not have to pay for it. I'm interested in that.”


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