Lotus reserve driver Jerome D’Ambrosio has an opportunity to prove himself this weekend as he steps into the car temporaily vacated by the suspended Romain Grosjean.
It’s a big ask, as he’s only done 40 laps in the E20 at Mugello back in May, but on the other hand, he has nothing to lose. Here’s what he had to say in a Q&A issued by the team.
Q: How does it feel to be called on to drive in the Italian Grand Prix?
“I understand the circumstances in which the drive has come about, but for me it’s a great opportunity and great challenge. I first want to thank the team for having faith in me and allowing me to step in the car for this race at Monza. I will do everything I can to do the best possible job. I’ve worked hard outside the car this year and tried to prepare as best I can just in case something like this happened. I want to make the most of this weekend.”
Q: How is your past form at Monza?
“I had my last podium in GP2 there, so I have good memories of Monza. It is a very challenging track because of the low downforce. It’s also going to be a special event in general, because it is the last race in Europe and Monza always has a very special atmosphere. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Q: What are the challenges of being thrown in at the deep end for a race like this?
“It’s a massive challenge, especially because I’ve not driven much this year and Monza is a unique low downforce track. But I don’t want to focus on what will be hard or difficult. I just want to focus on what I can achieve. It will be challenging but I am already part of the team, I know everyone and I will have great support from them to do the best I can. I will be focussed 100% to make full use of free practice because that could be the key for me this weekend.”
Q: What have you been doing in preparation for your race?
“As soon as I got the call on Sunday night I drove back to Spa to speak with Ayao Komatsu who will be my race engineer. We checked my seat and talked through everything I need to know. I will be spending time in the simulator, fine tuning myself with all the procedures. And I’ll be speaking a lot with the engineers so I’m as prepared as I can be heading into first practice on Friday.”
Q: Monza’s quite a unique track, where will your focus be?
“I can’t wait to be in the car! Monza is high speed and low downforce. Parabolica is a very important and a great corner. Ascari is also not an easy corner. There are some good challenges. It’s a different track from most these days and there will be plenty to do. I’m looking forward to being there and looking over all the data, but most of all I’m looking forward to being there and driving.”
Q: Are you ready for extra attention you’re going to receive this weekend?
“My focus is on the race. I had a complete season in F1 last year. This is a good thing because I know how an F1 weekend runs and also I’ve been with the team this year. I know it’s really busy at a Grand Prix, but in a good way because it’s a lot of work with engineers which I like.”
Q: You did drive at last year’s Italian Grand Prix – is that good preparation?
“It wasn’t too good as preparation as my car broke down on the warm-up lap! I’m definitely hoping for something better this year. My last real memory of Monza is from GP2 when I was on the podium. I’m going to be 100% focused to get a good result this year and am really looking forward to being on the grid watching the start lights.”