Rookie Report 2011: Jerome D’Ambrosio

Now this one is a little trickier to understand, The Belgian driver was signed as a reserve driver for Renault in 2010 (team principal Éric Boullier is his manager) and ended up as a Friday practice driver for Virgin Racing. He came close to Timo Glock’s times, but Virgin may have shot themselves in the foot by replacing higher placed Lucas di Grassi. Like Maldonado and Perez, D’Ambrosio has been racing in the GP2 series for the last couple of years, but came 12th in 2010. But like the other rookies, we’ll see how he manages with a full racing seat under him.

So how did he get into Virgin Racing?

D’Ambrosio took the tried and tested route into Formula One and began a career in karting. He started in 1995 and lasted until 2003, in that time he could call himself a 3 time Belgian champion (Mini class, 1996; Junior, 2002; Formula A, 2000). He also won further afield, the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2000 and the World Cup Formula A in 2002.

His impressive results gave him the opportunity to transfer to the single-seaters series, in his rookie year (2003) he won the Belgian Formula Renault title. 2003 turned out to be a busy year for him as he also finished 4th in the German Formula König series, as well as winning the Renault F1 driver programme test. In 2004 he finished top of the rookies in the French Formula Renault championship (4th overall), he also managed 7 races in the Eurocup. 2005 came and this meant another country, this time Italian Formula Renault (finished 4th), and a further 6 starts in the Eurocup.

L-R: Duval, d’Ambrosio, di Grassi, van der Garde, Lopez & Kovalainen (Photo credit: Renault F1)

2006 was a year of mixed fortunes, he competed in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series but left after scoring no points, 4 rounds in. But on the other hand he finished the year in 5th in Euroseries 3000. The International Formula Masters was started in 2007  and D’Ambrosio took that first title for his own, reaching the top podium on 5 occasions. GP2 beckoned in 2008, he joined Kamui Kobayashi for the Asia Series with the DAMS Teams and finished in 11th. By the end of the 08/09 season, he finished second behind his teammate without winning a race, and the 2009 season resulted in a 9th.

Photo Credit: Charniaux / xpb

2010 was a year of two halves for the Belgian. He stayed with the DAMS team for another year and finally got his first win in Monaco, but had to sit out for 2 races to be replaced by Romain Grosjean. He also secured a pole position in Belgium, but was unable to finish the race, and although he got a podium in Monza he finished in 12th.

The other half of 2010 revolved around the pinnacle of driving, Formula One, when he was revealed to be the reserve driver for Renault F1. No doubt due to a long standing relationship with the constructor. In September he got his first taste of the race weekend when he was offered some Friday practice time with Virgin Racing.  Then in December it was announced he would be driving for them for the 2011 season.

Can he make an impact on the grid for the ambitious team? Not long to find out…

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by rookief1, rookief1. rookief1 said: @MarussiaVirgin launch today let's welcome their rookie: Jerome D’Ambrosio > http://bit.ly/g0ZiuE #F1 […]



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