Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
Jerome d’Ambrosio is the newest member of the Lotus F1 Team as he accepted the role of being the third driver for the Renault team. The 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season is looking brighter for the Belgian after his departure from the Marussia Virgin Racing team.
“It’s a great feeling to be joining Lotus F1 Team. It’s an exciting next step in my career,” said d’Ambrosio. He will work with the team’s two drivers, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, during the season plus be ready to climb into the cockpit if required. “Now, I have the opportunity to work with one of the top teams with great potential for my future development,” he added.
This opportunity is one I couldn’t afford to miss.
Team Principal Eric Boullier commented, “To have a third driver who is highly motivated, fresh and talented and who contested the full 2011 season is highly beneficial for us. In Jerome we have someone we know well who integrates beneficially with the squad.”
The role of third driver will include test days. “Being associated with Lotus F1 Team should be more beneficial and this is the choice I have made. This opportunity is one I couldn’t afford to miss. My desire to get back in a race seat in the future is motivating me to do the best job possible in my new position,” said the Belgian.
Raikkonen is currently testing on the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, Spain. The 2007 World Champion is making his return to Formula One this year after a two-year absence. Following his first test day, the Finn said, “It was a good first day! Having not driven a Formula 1 car for two years and obviously with a new team, there is a lot to get used to. I’m happy because I was pretty quick to get back in the groove.”
D’Ambrosio’s busy year was 2010 when he was a reserve driver for the Renault team so he already knows several members of the Lotus team. During that same year, he was also the test driver for the Virgin team and competed in the GP2 Series -- the main series that competes at many of the Formula One Grand Prix races. With the DAMS team, the Belgian’s best overall points finish was second in the 2008-09 Asian GP2 Series. One of his teammates during his time in GP2 was the champion driver, Grosjean; thus the two drivers know one another quite well.
“He impressed as reserve driver for us in 2010 and at the end of that year he made a strong showing in the young driver test,” said Boullier. “He also showed strongly in his rookie season as an F1 race driver. I am looking forward to working with Jerome again and think he is a perfect addition to our driving strength.”
The Lotus F1 Team will launch their 2012 season in Jerez, Spain on February 6th.