Despite team boss John Booth being keen to play down the rumours, reports in the Belgian press are claiming that the team’s 24-year-old reserve driver, Jerome d’Ambrosio, has been offered Lucas di Grassi’s seat for 2011 if he can raise a budget of €5 million.
“If we can gather the requested budget, Jerome will be in F1 next year,” d’Ambrosio’s manager, Yves Decorte, told Belgium’s La Derniere Heure newspaper.
“And if we can do it quickly, he might even be able to drive on a Friday morning at the end of the season,” Decorte continued, before adding that about 60% of the budget had already been secured.
D’Ambrosio’s eight-year open-wheel racing career has seen the Etterbeek-born driver win the 2003 Belgian Formula Renault title and the 2007 International Formula Master crown. He has spent three seasons in GP2 racing for the DAMS squad, achieving his maiden win at this year’s Monaco sprint round on top of six other podium finishes. With a best championship finish of ninth last year, he was also a very distant runner-up in the 2008-9 GP2 Asia championship to Kamui Kobayashi.
Should he achieve his dream of joining the Formula 1 grid, he will become the first Belgian to do so since Philippe Adams
slowly piloted the Lotus at the 1994 Portuguese Grand Prix.
As for di Grassi, the Brazilian has been a largely anonymous figure in a rather anonymous car this season, and it’s been difficult to gauge his form at the back of the grid. Will his F1 career amount to that of many other South American drivers of late, with just a single season to show for his efforts?