LUCAS DI Grassi has vowed to prove his worth and establish himself in Formula One despite being shown the door by Virgin Racing.
The Brazilian racer was axed after just one year with the Dinnington-based team, who decided to replace him with Jerome d'Ambrosio.
While he was disappointed to be released by Virgin, di Grassi is determined to earn a race seat with another team in motor sport's premier competition.
"The plan is to stay in F1 this year and I am talking to some teams to try and find the best solution," said di Grassi, who retired from seven of his 19 races last term. "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."
Di Grassi claims he was overlooked by Virgin because he could not bring as much sponsorship money to the table as d'Ambrosio, who has never competed in F1.
Rotherham-born John Booth, Virgin's team principal, has previously dismissed those accusations, insisting d'Ambrosio secured his seat "absolutely on merit".
Nonetheless, di Grassi is convinced Virgin were swayed by the attractive package d'Ambrosio offered.
"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 said. "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."
He added: "It's a shame that F1 seats have been for sale. The team said to me numerous times that if the decision was made on purely technical grounds, I would be staying - but money spoke louder."
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