Virgin sign Charles Pic for 2012 in place of Jerome D'Ambrosio

Charles Pic
Pic finished fourth in this season's GP2 Series with two wins and three poles

Virgin Racing have signed Frenchman Charles Pic for 2012 in place of Belgian Jerome D'Ambrosio.

Pic, 21, impressed the team in his first time at the wheel of an F1 car when he tried out the MVR-02 at the young driver test in Abu Dhabi.

"He has an extremely mature head on young shoulders, so he will be working very hard to prepare for his debut season," said Virgin boss John Booth.

Pic added: "I'm very happy but this is just the beginning."

D'Ambrosio has lost his seat after a single season in Formula 1 where he partnered German driver Timo Glock, who signed a "long-term" contract to continue with the team back in July.

The Belgian ran Glock close in his debut season, finishing above his more experienced team-mate in the drivers' standings courtesy of a better highest race finish of 14th.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jerome D'Ambrosio for his hard work and important contribution to our team over the past 12 months or more," added Booth.

"He has an exciting future to look forward to I'm sure and we wish him every success."

Pic has spent the last two seasons competing in the GP2 Series,external-link the feeder championship to F1, and finished this season in fourth position with two wins and three pole positions for the Barwa Addax Team.

"We naturally keep a close eye on the junior formulae and Charles is certainly someone we have been watching over the past few years," added Booth.

"The real barometer however was our young driver test in Abu Dhabi last week, where we put him through a series of tough tests to thoroughly evaluate his potential.

"This was his first time in a Formula 1 car so it should have been quite daunting, however Charles was extremely focused on what needed to be done and absolutely rose to the challenge.

"He continued to improve in every area but his race simulation work particularly caught our eye."

Pic added: "As a driver you always feel you are ready for the next opportunity but in Abu Dhabi last week it was a tough test.

"The team gave me some fantastic opportunities to learn new things but I also knew that I had to impress them and show them I was ready to do a good job.

"I was pleased with my performance, and obviously the team were too.

"I know that a lot of hard work is ahead of me to reward this chance."