Jerome d'Ambrosio set to fill in for Grosjean

Belgian race driver Jerome d'Ambrosio looks set to be Lotus' choice as their replacement driver for Monza, as the team comes to terms with Roman Grosjean's shock one-race ban.
30.08.2012- Jerome D'Ambrosio (BEL), Test driver, Lotus F1 Team E20
30.08.2012- Jerome D'Ambrosio (BEL), Test driver, Lotus F1 Team E20

Lotus test and reserve driver Jerome d'Ambrosio might have been disappointed not to get an outing in the car during Friday practice at his home event at Spa-Francorchamps, but he's now looking like the prime candidate to get an unexpected race outing at Monza instead.

That's after the team's regular driver Romain Grosjean was handed a one-race ban for colliding with Lewis Hamilton at the start of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, which sparked a frightening accident at La Source which also took Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez out of the race.

Race stewards handed Grosjean the ban for "an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others," and added "the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement."

That's left Lotus scrambling for a replacement driver in the unusually short turnaround before next weekend's Italian Grand Prix, and the team's existing reserve driver Jerome d'Ambrosio is the obvious leading candidate.

"We'll announce the name of [Romain's] replacement a bit later in the week," was all that Lotus team principal Eric Boullier would say at Spa. RMC Sport report that he went on to tell reporters that the chances that d'Ambrosio would be in the car at Monza were "very high" and even "80 per cent."

"We are thinking of [using] our third driver first of all, [but] there are many drivers looking for a steering wheel," Boullier is quoted as saying by other French media sources.

However, reports add that Boullier also said there were some things he needed to do first before he would be able to confirm the team's plans.

D'Ambrosio was driving full time in F1 last season with Marussia Virgin Racing, but lost his seat at the end of 2011 when he was replaced by Charles Pic and took a one-year deal to work at Lotus while he looked for longer term racing options in F1. However, he was disappointed not to get the chance to run the Lotus in front of his home fans at Spa in Friday practice - even if that session did ultimately end up being rather a washout.

In the meantime, the 26-year-old has been adding to his Lotus development duties with media work including co-commentating on this year's GP2 Series races, in which he competed with the DAMS squad for three seasons between 2008 and 2010.

His colleague on the world feed broadcasts, F1 journalist Will Buxton, tweeted on Sunday evening that it "Looks like I'll be without [Jerome] in Monza then," adding: "Last time I saw JDam, he was driving out of the circuit. 2 hours later reliable sources tell me he was back at track having Lotus seat fit."

Pirelli's official test driver Jaime Alguersuari - who also works as co-commentator for the BBC Sport F1 broadcasts - is another name that's been mentioned as a possible replacement for Grosjean for next weekend, and the presence of Force India's 2011 driver Adrian Sutil in the paddock at Spa also led to speculation that Lotus might approach him as a possibility.

Even F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello's name has been mentioned in connection for the ride. However, even though next weekend is an 'off' week for the IZOD IndyCar Series, it's unlikely that the Brazilian would be interested in a one-off return to F1 just ahead of the IndyCar series finale especially after he's recorded back-to-back top five finishes in his new championship.

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