Solid start for D’Ambrosio in unfamiliar Lotus E20 8 September, 2012 Jerome D’Ambrosio in action driving the Lotus E20 during practice at Monza Sep.8 (F1 Media) Lotus driver Jérôme D’Ambrosio – substituting the team’s regular driver Romain Grosjean, who it serving a one-race suspension – made a solid start to his Italian Grand Prix weekend with 65 useful and incident free laps at Monza. This is D’Ambrosio’s first grand prix of the season, and only his second time in Lotus E20. He previously only drove the car during a wet day of testing at Mugello, in May. In the two sessions at Monza he finished FP1 in 15th position, a second slower than team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. In the afternoon he closed that gap to sixth-tenths and finished the session P12. “Today [Friday] went pretty well overall and it feels good to be back in the car,” said the Belgian driver. “It’s not an easy task stepping in at the last minute; there’s a lot to take in and with a low downforce track like Monza it can be quite tricky to find the limit, but we completed a busy schedule and put in a lot of laps which is a good start. It’s difficult to say where we are right now, but we made steady progress between the two sessions and my aim for tomorrow is to take another step forwards and see where we go from there…so far so good.” His lack of familiarisation with the car is something team principal Eric Boullier regrets. “The plan was to give him a couple of Fridays and more over the whole season but because of the performance [of the car] we had to reconsider a little bit the strategy and ambition of the team for this year,” he explained, during the FIA Friday conference. “It’s always when something happens that you say ‘I should have done this differently’. We gave him also a couple of runs with an old car… in different demos and that helped him. But yeah, if he would have a bit more mileage, he would have fit a little bit better – even if he did a good job today.” “We feel we’ve made good progress with the running we’ve had,” added Lotus trackside operations director Alan Permane. “Jérôme has done a great job; chipping away at the time difference between him and Kimi without any problems while absorbing all the procedures and information we’ve thrown at him.” Subbed by AJN. Tweet Related NewsMaldonado: Big challenge at Monza will be the power issueGrosjean: Monza will be tough for usLotus: Damage was done by our poor qualifying positionsLotus: We simply weren’t fast enoughLotus: Overall, the car looks quick, reliable and we’re happyRaikkonen to drive long wheelbase Lotus at MonzaRaikkonen: Hopefully we have a real chance to fight for Monza victory this timeGrosjean: Scoring points when things are a little more tricky is positiveLotus: I don’t think we could have expected betterLotus: We’re a little disappointed with where we are on the grid G Jerome isn’t as fast as Romain Crashedagain, but he doesn’t wreck as much either.