The deal between the two parties has been signed on a 3-race basis, meaning Yamamoto will be present in the Virgin garage for the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese Grands Prix. No mention had been made by the team regarding a potential extension of that contract once F1 heads back to Europe.
“Sakon will spend the weekends observing the race drivers and attending all engineering meetings to ensure he is up to speed should there be an occasion where a last minute substitution is required,” confirmed Virgin team owner John Booth on Wednesday.
The deal doesn't include any Friday driving for the 28-year old Japanese racer, who has spent half of season last year competing for another newly entrant, Hispania Racing F1.
In fact, Yamamoto began the 2010 campaign in the same position as this year, being a reserve driver for HRT F1. By mid-season, the Japanese was promoted to racing driver status after Karun Chandhok was unable to pay for his seat anymore. Due to illness in the late stages of the 2011 campaign, he was replaced by Christian Klien starting the Singapore GP.
Yamamoto contested an overall 21 Grands Prix in Formula 1, starting with the 2006 season, for team like Super Aguri, Spyker and Hispania.