Wickens waits as late sponsors threaten d'Ambrosio seat

By on Tuesday, May 10, 2011

May 10 (GMM) Jerome d'Ambrosio could lose his seat at Virgin because his sponsors have not paid up.

The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws said the reluctance of the rookie's Belgian sponsors could hand the race seat to Robert Wickens, whose sponsors are eager for the young Canadian to make his debut as soon as possible.

"I'm not worrying about it. Everybody says I'm doing well," d'Ambrosio is quoted as saying.

But the Het Nieuwsblad newspaper said Eric Boullier, the Renault team principal and also boss of d'Ambrosio's management outfit Gravity, is travelling to Belgium on Thursday for crisis talks.

"This cannot go on," said the bespectacled Frenchman. "Anything said about Jerome's so-called sponsors doing what they promised is not true.

"People need to understand that when you make a commitment, you must keep your word. Everything is stuck.

"I have spoken to the folks at Virgin and they are starting to be impatient. They have said clearly that if there is no change, they will think about replacing Jerome," added Boullier.

The reports said d'Ambrosio's sponsors are EUR 4 million in arrears.

Boullier confirmed that it is Wickens, the 22-year-old Canadian linked to Virgin through his Formula Renault 3.5 sponsor Marussia, who is in line for d'Ambrosio's seat.

He said Gravity has "dipped into its purse to calm the situation" but warned that d'Ambrosio's sponsors must eventually pay up.

"Some people make a real science out of making excuses," said Boullier. "There are holidays, the banks are closed, you name it. But there comes a time when the nonsense must stop.

"Jerome's good performances and our personal relationships come in handy in this situation, but it cannot continue forever on that," he insisted.

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