x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Jerome D'Ambrosio keeps Italian Grand Prix expectations low

The Belgian realistic on his chances as he stands in for the banned Romain Grosjean.

Jerome D'Ambrosio, centre, walks the Monza track with Lotus engineers.
Jerome D'Ambrosio, centre, walks the Monza track with Lotus engineers.

MONZA //Jerome D'Ambrosio will compete in this Sunday's Italian Grand Prix in a car capable of fighting at the front of the field. And yet the Belgian, who is filling the void left at Lotus by the suspended Romain Grosjean, acknowledged yesterday that the only experience he has of driving the Lotus E20 is a wet day's testing in Italy.

Grosjean is prohibited from competing at Monza this weekend after being given a one-race ban by the sport's governing body following his involvement in an opening-lap crash at last week's Belgian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman has been involved in seven first-lap incidents in this season's 12 races and Fernando Alonso, the two-time world champion who came close to serious injury in the accident, immediately called for inexperienced drivers to show more respect to the rules.

Although Alonso dismissed having concerns with D'Ambrosio's involvement, the Lotus reserve's limited running showcases the problem of Formula One no longer offering in-season testing opportunities to its drivers.

"I don't feel I have had plenty of time in the car - one day in Mugello on a fairly wet track," D'Ambrosio, who raced for Virgin Racing last season in a far slower and less equipped car, said. "It will be good to get more time, but I was really involved with the team so far, so I will try to capitalise on that."

The 26 year old only found out he would be racing this weekend when he was told on Monday.

The last time he competed in a race weekend was last November's Brazilian Grand Prix, where he finished 19th.

"Obviously, it has been short notice, so it has been a bit of a hectic week for me," D'Ambrosio, whose best finish from 19 grands prix is 14th, said.

"As third driver it is part of the job to be prepared as best as I can, keep fit and keep up to date as much as I can in case something like this happens."

D'Ambrosio says he is not setting himself any targets for the weekend until tomorrow afternoon and qualifying, when he will have completed the weekend's three practice sessions and have a better idea of where he is likely to start Sunday's race.

"I don't have much information to set a position target," he said, adding he has no intention of changing his driving style.

"I need to work with the engineers on the car, stay focused on that, and once that work is done we can hope for something good."

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