Lucas di Grassi has admitted that funding his way through motor racing's lower categories to Formula One was difficult.

Like his contemporaries Nelson Piquet and Bruno Senna, the 25-year-old is from Brazil, but was unable to attract sponsors with the assistance of a famous surname.

Di Grassi, a GP2 regular and last year's Renault reserve, has secured his Grand Prix debut for 2010 with the new Virgin Racing team.

But he told Brazil's Globo: "I have always been competing with drivers with strong last names. It was always difficult to find sponsors."