Di Grassi: Virgin chased the money

Thursday 20-January-2011 08:44

Lucas di Grassi says Virgin Racing bowed down to the almighty dollar when opting to sign Jerome d'Ambrosio as his replacement.

After just one season in Formula One with newcomers Virgin, di Grassi was left out in the cold having failed to find the sponsorship needed to guarantee his race seat.

Instead, the team opted to sign d'Ambrosio with team principal John Booth insisting the Belgian had "secured this seat absolutely on merit."

Di Grassi, though, believes Virgin were swayed by the money.

"The situation with Virgin was very simple. The sponsorship that I had last year didn't work out as I expected, so I was looking for a new one to continue with the team," he told Autosport.

"Even by halfway through last season I knew that it would be very difficult. I was not in a position to fight commercially with the other guys who had a budget to close the deal there as it became very clear by the end of the season that they needed someone to pay for the seat.

"I've never paid for any ride in my life - I was with Renault for six years and then Virgin last year and it was impossible to find a solution. That was pretty much my only chance to stay in F1 in a race seat."

But despite being left without a race seat, the Brazilian is confident that his F1 career is not over.

"The plan is to stay in F1 this year and I am talking to some teams to try and find the best solution.

"It's not just for 2011; I need an opportunity to come back into a race seat in 2012, so the best strategy is to talk to the teams that I would have a chance of racing for next year. I don't just want to be in F1 in 2011 and then find myself with the same problem next year.

"I'm working to put myself in the best possible position for next year, but if something comes up this year, then that would be a welcome surprise!"

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