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Di Grassi eyes F1 return in 2012

Lucas di GrassiVirgin refugee Lucas di Grassi is focusing on securing a racing return to Formula 1 in 2012, with few race seats remaining for the coming season.

The Brazilian, who had been in contention to retain his Virgin drive but could not raise the required backing, is keen to land a test and reserve driver role but stresses that he is keen for it to offer the opportunity of a promotion to a race drive for the following season.

Although he struggled to make a big impact in F1 during his rookie season, di Grassi impressed the team with his performances in often difficult circumstances and his time as a Renault tester means that he is would attract interest from teams looking for an experienced third driver.

"The plan is to stay in F1 this year and I am talking to some teams to try and find the best solution," he told AUTOSPORT. "It's not just for 2011, but I need an opportunity to come back into a race seat in 2012.

"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."

Di Grassi is keen to secure a role that includes some track time in 2011 to stay sharp, he admits that it will be difficult to do so.

"It's a problem to go for year without driving and it's not very good for the technical aspect of being an F1 driver, so if you can, it is good to be in the position to drive at some point in the year or keep using a simulator," he said.

"Then that will help me to come back in 2012. The ideal would be to have a third driver role that allows me to stay active so that I have the best chance to perform when I come back."

He also has not ruled out remaining involved with Virgin, where he is held in high regard by team principal John Booth, for a second season, but insists that it would have to be with a view to a race seat in 2012.

"I won't say no," said di Grassi of the possibility of continuing with Virgin in a non-racing capacity. "The problem with Virgin was purely commercial for the race seat and the teams knows that I was a valuable asset in developing the car.

"But I need to be able to come back in 2012 in a good position. It would be a pleasure to work with Virgin again, but if it's another team, I have no problem with."

Di Grassi is currently in Europe working on possible deals for the 2011 season and is hoping to finalise an F1 role ahead of the start of the season.

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