Jerome D’Ambrosio will race in place of the suspended Romain Grosjean’s for Lotus at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, the team has as expected confirmed, marking the former Virgin driver’s competitive return to a race environment for the first time since the end of last season.
Although some of the bigger name drivers currently on the F1 sidelines were immediately linked to the one-off drive after Grosjean’s one-race ban for causing Sunday’s first-corner pile-up at Spa was announced, it was logical that Lotus would turn to their well-regarded Belgian test and reserve driver to fill the void at Monza.
The Enstone team duly confirmed the news this afternoon and Lotus team chief Eric Boullier, while aware the 26-year-old has an uphill task to acclimatise to the brief sudden promotion, is confident he will rise to the challenge of stepping into a front-running car that he points out should be fighting for the podium places.
“When we signed Jérôme as our third driver we signed a man who is highly motivated, fresh, talented and who contested the full 2011 season,” the Frenchman said. “We hope that this will pay dividends when he drives the car this weekend in Monza. We know that Jérôme is well integrated into the team and that he did a good job when he drove the E20 at the Mugello test.
“Now he has the challenge of a Grand Prix at the challenging circuit of Monza, in a car which is capable of finishing on the podium. One thing is for sure, he’s half Italian and I think I know which driver the spectators will support apart from Fernando ! It’s a tough task for Jérôme, but we will be supporting him in every way to achieve a good result.”
D’Ambrosio, dropped in favour of French youngster Charles Pic at the rebranded Marussia team at the end of last season, talks about using the one-off chance to showcase his capabilities and is targeting a first F1 points finish.
“My desire for 2012 has always been to get back into the seat of a Formula 1 car so I am grabbing this opportunity with both hands. Monza is a fantastic circuit and I can’t wait to take to the track on Friday,” he said.
“As third driver I have worked with the team at every Grand Prix, attending all the briefings and meetings that the race drivers do, so I am well prepared in this respect.
“Monza is a superb circuit, but it is also quite a technical one so I am not underestimating the task ahead of me. I want to reward the faith that the team has in me with a good haul of points from the race. I will hand the wheel back to Romain after Sunday’s race and I hope that this one showing in Italy will allow me to show my capabilities fully.”