11 January 2012
d’Ambrosio, van der Garde still chasing F1 race seats
The race for the two remaining F1 race seats for 2012 remains as crowded as ever, with as many as eight drivers still being considered as contenders.
The Benelux countries have been sparsely represented in motorsport's top flight in recent years, but two of its more prominent current stars believe that they still have a chance of landing an F1 race seat for 2012.
Jerome d'Ambrosio found himself the odd man out at Marussia Racing when Charles Pic appeared on the scene, while Giedo van der Garde has been quietly knocking on the F1 door for several seasons, apparently armed with a sponsor keen to expand its previous involvement in the series.
Both, however, are currently among a queue of drivers waiting to hear on the destiny of the two remaining vacancies, at Williams and HRT, before they can call themselves an F1 racer in 2012.
d'Ambrosio's management is confident that the Belgian - who did not disgrace himself alongside veteran Timo Glock at Marussia Virgin in 2011 - will be able to reveal his season's plans within the next ten days, although there was no hint whether it would involve a race or reserve role.
The 26-year old is represented by the same Gravity Sports Management team that vaulted GP2 champion Romain Grosjean back into the Renault - now Lotus F1 - team for 2012, and it is possible that d'Ambrosio could join the Frenchman by performing a back-up role at Enstone. However, the Belgian admits that he would prefer to compete this year, even if it means remaining at the back of the grid.
“We are thinking of the best solution for me to be in F1 for a long time," he told Belgium's La Derniere Heure, "Honestly, I'd prefer to race if I have the chance - and that possibility still exists.
“This week we have one last meeting and, with any luck, I will know very soon what I'll be doing this season.”
d'Ambrosio's manager, Benjamin Mignot, confirmed that a decision will be taken sooner rather than later, to ensure that his client is in a position to make the most of pre-season testing when it begins.
“A decision should be made within ten days in time for the start of winter testing at Jerez on 7 February,” he noted, “We are not spoken about much in the foreign press and that's fine, but I can assure you that we are still in the frame and that doors are still open.
“The situation is unchanged since Christmas. We have a reasonable budget for a F1 seat. I'm not talking about the amounts, but we consider Adrian Sutil the only real competitor.”
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