Belgian race driver Jerome D'Ambrosio will not participate in any of the F1 sessions at his home event at Spa-Francorchamps next weekend, it's been announced.
Currently working as the reserve driver for the Lotus F1 team, D'Ambrosio had expected to be handed the opportunity to participate in the Friday morning free practice session, but the team has decided that it currently can't afford the distraction given how tight the championship battle is now becoming.
D'Ambrosio said that he supported the decision.
"I will not participate in the free practice at Spa, but it is the result of a joint decision," local media sources in Belgium reported D'Ambrosio as saying. "It's certainly not being forced on me. If I'd been in charge of the team, I would have made the same decision," he said.
D'Ambrosio signed on as the reserve driver for the team at the start of 2012, having lost his F1 seat after a year of competing with Virgin Racing. He expected to be handed several free practice session outings with Lotus during 2012 - with Belgium clearly being the closest to his heart - but has not been involved in any of the Friday sessions in the 11 races so far this year.
D'Ambrosio explained that the tight battle for the driver and team championships had been the major consideration in the decision, and that regular drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean needed all the time they could get at Spa to get themselves ready for the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
"Lotus is currently third in the constructors' championship after Red Bull and McLaren," he said. "We are behind by one point, and [three points] ahead of Ferrari. That changes everything, of course. Now every minute counts, and every detail."
D'Ambrosio said that he was still very much involved in the team's push for race wins, "in important work that the team cannot do without behind the scenes back at the factory," said the former GP2 driver.
D'Ambrosio admitted that he wasn't sure whether he would now get any opportunity at all to take the wheel of the Lotus F1 car in 2012. "We look at everything race by race," he said. "This is also a joint decision."
It's not clear whether D'Ambrosio will stay with Lotus beyond this season, as his current contract as the team's official reserve and development driver ends after 2012.
"I have a one year contract with Lotus, which ends at the end of the season," he said. "I have a few options for 2013, and working as Lotus' third driver has meant other teams are showing great interest in me."