Despite Jaime Alguersuari
and Rubens Barrichello
declaring their availability for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix
at Monza, Lotus F1 has confirmed reserve driver Jerome d'Ambrosio as stand-in for the suspended Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean received a one-race ban after being adjudged to have caused the opening corner pile-up at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, leaving Lotus with the problem of finding a temporary team-mate for Kimi Raikkonen
at Monza. Although Pirelli test driver Alguersuari - who apparently turned down an invitation from Enstone in order to remain with Toro Rosso
in 2012 - and IndyCar convert Barrichello both went public with their interest in the drive, d'Ambrosio - the initial favourite to fill the seat - was finally confirmed by the team on Tuesday afternoon.
Such was the strength of the Belgian's candidature, he actually had a seat fitting in the race chassis on the Sunday night following the Belgian Grand Prix, and is now working closely with the team to ensure a seamless transition from third driver to race driver for Monza.
"When we signed Jerome as our third driver, we signed a man who is highly motivated, fresh, talented and who contested the full 2011 season," team principal Eric Boullier commented, "We hope that this will pay dividends when he drives the car this weekend in Monza.
"We know that Jerome is well integrated into the team and that he did a good job when he drove the E20 at the Mugello test. Now he has the challenge of a grand prix at the challenging circuit of Monza, in a car which is capable of finishing on the podium.
"It's a tough task for Jerome, but we will be supporting him in every way to achieve a good result. One thing is for sure, he's half Italian and I think I know which driver the spectators will support - apart from Fernando [Alonso]!"
Ironically, d'Ambrosio, a former GP2 Series race winner who contested the 2011 F1 season with the Marussia Virgin Racing team, had been due to run the E20 in Friday practice at his home grand prix, only to see the opportunity taken away as the team hoped to further evaluate its 'double DRS' system ahead of a proposed race debut.
"My desire for 2012 has always been to get back into the seat of an F1 car, so I am grabbing this opportunity with both hands," he smiled, "Monza is a fantastic circuit and I can't wait to take to the track on Friday.
"Monza is a superb circuit, but it is also quite a technical one, so I am not underestimating the task ahead of me. As third driver, I have worked with the team at every grand prix, attending all the briefings and meetings that the race drivers do, so I am well prepared in this respect. I want to reward the faith that the team has in me with a good haul of points from the race. I will hand the wheel back to Romain after Sunday's race and I hope that this one showing in Italy will allow me to show my capabilities fully."