Virgin Racing confirms Manor takeover and announces Lucas di Grassi for 2010

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lucas di Grassi will be F1's third rookie driver in 2010
Lucas di Grassi will be F1's third rookie driver in 2010

Virgin Racing has confirmed its long-expected take over of the Manor Grand Prix team for 2010.

And it has announced the team’s second driver will be Brazilian rookie Lucas di Grassi.

Di Grassi completes Virgin’s 2010 F1 driver line-up, joining Toyota refugee Timo Glock.

Di Grassi was runner-up in the GP2 championship in 2007 and placed third this year behind Nico H???lkenberg and Vitaly Petrov. He was previously Renault’s third driver and tested for the team at Jerez earlier this month.

Alvaro Parente will be the team’s test and reserve driver.

Brazilian fans will have two new drivers to cheer on in 2010 as Bruno Senna makes his debut for Campos. There’s still no sign of an F1 return for the disgraced Nelson Piquet Jnr, however.

With Felipe Massa returning for Ferrari and Rubens Barrichello switching to Williams there will be four Brazilians in F1 in 2010. By my reckoning the last time Brazil had that many drivers on the grid was the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, when Barrichello and Massa were joined by Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Zonta.

Update: Virgin Racing have launched their official website.

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Image (C) Alastair Staley / GP2 Series Media Service

62 comments on “Virgin Racing confirms Manor takeover and announces Lucas di Grassi for 2010”

  1. Sounds good. He’s been a bit up and down in GP2 but overall very promising. He doesn’t seem like the kind of driver who’s going to stuff it in the barriers every other race either.

  2. Is this the first time in F1 history that a team is having 2 rookies at the helm and that too a new team ?

    We can now find out who is faster of both of them, Bruno or Grassi ?

    What say guys ?

    1. Glock is no rookie…

    2. Virgin racing don’t have 2 rookies…

    3. Campos could if they do sign Petrov though.

      I bet one of the tiny teams in the early 90s started with an all-rookie line-up. Any takers?

      1. Coloni started off with Gabriele Tarquini in 1987, but that was only a 1 car team…does that count? :P

      2. At the 1999 Brazilian GP Minardi’s two drivers only had 1 GP start between them, as Marc Gene had made his debut in the Australian race and Stephane Sarrazin was substituting for the injured Luca Badoer.

        1. To add to that, the Jordan and Minardi teams both had all-rookie lineups at the start of 2005, didn’t they?

          1. Yip, they did.

      3. Jordan, with Schumaker and Frentzen?. Spa 91?

        1. Schumacher’s team mate at Spa ’91 was Andrea de Cesaris, who wasn’t a rookie.

      4. sorry Keith, but it would be Petrov or Maldonado, they’re both rookies

    4. Tyrrell ran 2 rookies in 1984 with Martin Brundle and Stefan Bellof.

  3. Red and grey colour scheme? So boring!

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      15th December 2009, 10:45

      Uh, that’s the logo of Racing Engineering, a very successful GP2 team that Di Grassi drove for.

      If their official website – http://www.virginracing.com – is anything to go by, they’ll be black with white and red.

      Very flashy site, by the way. If they’re this stylish when 2010 comes around, I’ll be a happy man.

      1. i love the video on the virginracing site. hopefully they’ll be black and red.

      2. awesome site, I wish them the best I really hope they do well, ill definitely be cheering for Lucas di Grassi

  4. Good or rubbish, who cares.
    Rock and roll F1 is back.
    Jordan F1 is dead. Long live Virgin Racing!!

  5. Here is 1 more question .. if Merc signs Michael then for which team would Heidfield drive?
    It may happen that both him and Kubica may drive for Renault nexy year.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      15th December 2009, 10:54

      Who cares? This is about Virgin, not Heidfeld. There’s a discussion forum for that.

      1. PM, why the attitude? With Schumacher possibly coming back, the closing of the second Virgin seat may impact on where Heidfeld goes. It may not be directly specific to the article’s title, but it is a relevant tangent.

    2. Heidfeld could stay with Sauber.

  6. I thought Virgin might tie-in their new F1 team with their new space tourism venture. A white, black and blue livery with the sponsorship of Virgin Galactic would look very sexy indeed.

    I’m hoping for a ‘Virgin Girl’ noseart on the nosecone like their planes sport.

    1. Personally I hope it’s more like this: http://www.breakfrom.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/spaceshiptwo.jpg

      The Virgin Girl would be a nice touch too!

    2. Good idea, it would look cool, but I don’t think Virgin need to try too hard to sell tickets on Virgin Galactic!

    3. Good idea, it would look cool, but I don’t think Virgin need to try too hard to sell tickets on Virgin Galactic!

      The girl on the nose would be great. I like girls. :)

      1. Sorry for the double post folks. Didn’t think the first one worked. I am shamed.

  7. The latest driver predictions

    1.Button Mclaren
    2.Hamilton
    3.Nico Rosberg Mercedes
    4.Michael/Heidfield
    5.Vettel Red Bull
    6.Webber
    7.Massa Ferrari
    8.Alonso
    9.Barrichelo Williams
    10.Hulkenberg
    11.Kubica Renault
    12.Kobayashi
    13.Sutil Force India
    14.Liuzzi
    15.Buemi STR
    16.Jaime
    17.Trulli Lotus
    18.Kovvi
    19.Bruno Senna Campos
    20.Petrov
    21.Glock Virgin
    22.Grassi
    23.Heidfield(if no Merc) Sauber
    24.Fisichella
    25.Villenuv USF1
    26.Bourdais

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      15th December 2009, 11:16

      You can do that here:

      http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/forum/topic.php?id=587&page=7&replies=187#post-11221

      In the meantime, keep the discussion on-topic. There’s a lot to be said about Virgin that hasn’t been. For example, Alvaro Parente has ben confirmed as test driver.

      1. I was hoping Parente would get the Campos seat. He’s easily good enough for a race drive in my view.

  8. When was there a Portugeezer last in F1? Pedro Lamy?

      1. Yeah, I believe Monteiro was the last Portuguese driver to race in F1. I always thought he was quite good, shame his career never really took off.

  9. I wonder if there is any chance of Anthony Davidson getting a seat now. I think Manor/Virgin was his best chance with them being a British team. Maybe he could end up at Sauber or USF1, but there are not too many places left for next season now and i’m starting to think he will be back in the BBC commentary box next season.

  10. There’s a fair amount of new young blood in F1 for 2010. It should make for interesting racing next year.

    I wonder what sort of ‘long term’ commitment Virgin have in mind for this new project as they can sometimes be a little fickle or others may say astutely ruthless in their new business adventures…

  11. Good for Virgin Racing

    @Keith: On a separate issue, at the start of the season, you had asked for a number of predictions from all the readers. There were around 20 questions, “Who will score more points, Kimi or Felipe”, “Will Felipe win Turkish GP”, “Who will win the WDC and WCC” and so on..

    Can we bump up that particular post? It will be cool to reflect back on what all went wrong :-) or right :-)

    1. @Keith: On a separate issue, at the start of the season, you had asked for a number of predictions from all the readers. There were around 20 questions, “Who will score more points, Kimi or Felipe”, “Will Felipe win Turkish GP”, “Who will win the WDC and WCC” and so on..

      Can we bump up that particular post? It will be cool to reflect back on what all went wrong :-) or right :-)

      Here you go…

      1. Thanks :-)

        But I want to bump it up, so that everyone can see. I just saw mine, horrendous predictions those are.

    2. Coming up here shortly…

  12. Thanks for the report Keith, although the last time Brazil had four drivers was actually in Brazil 2004. The record was 5 drivers in the 2001 Canadian Grand Prix.

    In Brazil they are reporting that Virgin will not develop their car in the wind tunnel and will instead use Computational fluid dynamics (or CFD) to design, similar to what some Le Mans team have done (and rather sucessfully). Has a Formula One team ever attempted this? Does it help cut costs, and furthermore, will it work?

  13. Quite a nice looking line-up. Am a fan of Glock, and think it’s quite brave that he’s taken on a new team when it looked like Renault were waiting for him (although the uncertainty there may be best avoided). And am glad to see di Grassi come through, quite liked him in GP2.

    Overall this is probably my early favourite of the new teams, although I’d have preferred not to see Branson there to be honest and for it to still be “Manor”.

    The no wind-tunnel thing could prove either genius or suicidal.

    1. I doubt it is solely down to hardware, as far as I know BMW had their own dedicated supercomputers for CFD as well as great wind tunnel facilities and look what happened…

      I think it’s down to how you use the resources you have, and if you can identify & develop the areas of the car that will prove most effective that bring’s success. Not simply the power/size of your supercomputer/wind tunnel.

  14. Cool logo but looks like we’ll be in for another boring red and white colour scheme

    1. Nothing wrong with red! :P

  15. Penelope Pitstop
    15th December 2009, 13:27

    Virgin is definitely my pick of the new teams.

  16. Now Glock says: Schumacher will be back.

    This is really getting out of hand. Make the announcement already!!!

  17. Surprised. Thought he’ll go to Campos. But does it make any difference? I think all new teams will struggle. Keith, who do you think will be the worst among the new comers?

    Just to make things interesting, can’t we have something like a intra-championship? I mean it was done before during the phasing out of the turbo era.

    A Colin Chapman trophy was awarded to all the team that ran normally aspirated engines.

    Something similar, just to add interest, cuz I highly doubt any of the new teams will get into the points.

    1. I think the better ones will be Lotus with Trulli and heikki, I’d put my money on them

    2. We haven’t heard much from USF1 so far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything at this stage. Virgin’s no wind tunnel approach is a heck of a risk.

      1. Virgin’s no wind tunnel approach is a heck of a risk.

        I agree. Unless they have a very sophisticated fluid dynamics modeling software that nobody knows about (which i doubt). Even so, modeling of turbulence in 3D is extremely difficult.

  18. Would have loved it if D. Patrick were a Virgin…….. pilot ;-)

  19. I think it is a good line-up, probably what I expected a new team to do, have one experienced driver and one rookie.

    I don’t think it is as good as the Lotus line-up simply because they have two experienced drivers.

    I think there was a forum article about possible innuendo with the new Virgin team, how about the Autosport headline

    Branson: Virgin can go all the way

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/80582

    1. He had to get the first Virgin quip in there didn’t he!

    2. Penelope Pitstop
      15th December 2009, 14:21

      Joe Saward’s is one of my favorites so far: “Di Grassi to get Virgin berth.”

      1. Virgin budget below the belt? Virgin puts the brakes on blowing (the budget)?

        *chortle*

  20. All the new teams are ‘Virgins’, aren’t they? Pun aside, most of the new teams will struggle, but they should soon find their feet. If they can’t, then they will just go the way of Simtek, Forti, Pacific, Eifeland etc. But overall, a bigger grid with more privateer teams in the mould of Williams can only be a good thing.

  21. Searchandfound
    15th December 2009, 16:26

    I think the best driver is the third driver, the Portuguese Alvaro Parente. He is an impressed fast driver and know how to fit the car. Unfortunately, he don’t get the necessary money to be one of the first drivers. For sure he will develop quite well the car.

  22. You forgot to mention other brazilian, Luiz Razia, was named the second test driver…

    He had one full season in GP2, with a win from pole at Monza Sprint Race, but failed to score for the rest of the season…

    He had a similar performance on 2008-2009 GP2 Asia, with a win from pole in Bahrain 2 Sprint Race, and very poor results on the rest…

  23. I don’t want Nelson Piquet JR to return.

  24. virgin have so much money to just spend. i think they should of got a head start and tried to buy schumacher into the team :P

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