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Jerome d'Ambrosio

Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Singapore Grand Prix, Preparations, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Thursday, 23 September 2010 L-R: Giedo van der Garde (NED), Lucas DiGrassi (BRA), Loic Duval (FRA), Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL). 2004 Renault Rdd Driver Announcement, Human Performance Centre (HPC), Enstone, England. January 2004. Jerome D'Ambrosio (BEL) Tech 1 Racing. World Series By Renault, Rd2, Monte Carlo, Monaco, 26-28 May 2006. Jerome D'Ambrosio (BEL) DAMS on the podium. GP2 Asia Series 2008-09, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, Sat 24 June 2009 Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing VR-01 Reserve Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Friday, 5 November 2010

Jerome d’Ambrosio’s path to Formula One racing began almost by chance when his mother took him to a karting track as a boy whilst on a family holiday in Tenerife. The Belgian youngster instantly caught the motorsport bug, prompting his father to buy him his first kart for Christmas when he was aged just nine. From there, there was no turning back for the boy from Etterbeek.

He went on to become a three-time Belgian karting champion, winning the Mini class in 1996, Junior in 2000 and Formula A in 2002. He was also victorious in the Junior Monaco Kart Cup in 2000, and World Cup Formula A in 2002.

He stepped up to single seaters in 2003, winning the Belgian Formula Renault (1.6 litre) championship at his first attempt, with former F1 driver and compatriot Thierry Boutsen's team. He also made his mark on the German-based Formula Koenig series, finishing fourth overall with four race wins.

Those achievements brought him the chance to compete for a slot on Renault’s Formula One driver development programme for 2004. He duly won a place and finished as top rookie in that season’s French Formula Renault 2-litre series with Graff Racing, for whom he also competed in seven Eurocup rounds.

He moved on to the Italian Formula Renault Championship in 2005, finishing fourth overall, and also starting six Eurocup races, all with Euronova Racing. In a busy season he also found time for one-off outings in the FIA GT and Italian F3000 series, plus two rounds of the Italian Formula Renault winter cup, both of which he won, again with Euronova.

The 2006 season saw D’Ambrosio competing at Formula Renault’s highest level, the 3.5 series, with Tech 1 Racing, though he left the team after just four rounds, having failed to make an impact. From there he headed back to Italian F3000 with Euronova, scoring two podiums en route to fifth in the championship, despite missing the year’s opening races.

The second title of D’Ambrosio’s single-seater career came in 2007 in the inaugural International Formula Master championship. At the wheel of his Cram Competition machine, he dominated the series with five wins and 11 podiums, finishing the year on 100 points, 35 clear of his nearest rival.

His next step on the racing ladder was the F1 support series, GP2. He competed for DAMS in 2008, with another future Formula One star, Kamui Kobayashi, as his team mate. He finished 11th in the main series after two podiums, and runner-up (to Kobayashi) in the winter Asia competition. Retained by DAMS for 2009, he improved to ninth overall in the main series, although a race victory still eluded him.

DAMS linked up with the Renault Formula One team for 2010 and D’Ambrosio - managed by Renault’s new team principal Eric Boullier - was confirmed as their F1 reserve driver. In GP2 he finally scored his first series win (in Monaco) as well as his first pole (in Belgium), but more importantly he made four Friday practice appearances for Virgin, leading to a race berth with the F1 team for 2011.