Lotus has been forced to call-up test driver Jerome d’Ambrosio for the Italian Grand Prix after the FIA stewards imposed a one-race ban and €50,000 fine to Romain Grosjean for triggering the Belgian Grand Prix start crash.
The Frenchman touched-off a massive pile up of car after he moved across on Lewis Hamilton on the run towards the first corner (La Source) of the race. The two cars made contact and slammed into Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari and the Saubers of Pastor Maldonado and Kumui Kobayashi.
The FIA statement read as follows:
‘The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others. It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race. The stewards note the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty.’
Grosjean accepted the decision.
“When you love racing this is very hard,” said Grosjean. “I accept my mistake.”
“I did a mistake and I misjudged the gap with Lewis. I was sure I was in front of him. So a small mistake made a big incident.
“I didn’t change my line; I went from left to right. I was not really wanting to put anyone in the wall – I’m not here to stop the race in the first corner. I’m very, very sorry and I’m glad that nobody is hurt.
“But I have to say it is a very, very hard decision to hear.”
Although an official statement from Lotus is yet to be made, team principal Eric Boullier has said that d’Ambrosio has a “very high” chance of being on the grid at Monza.
“There are many drivers around who are looking for a drive,” said Boullier.
“We will consider first Jerome, who is our third driver. He has most of the chance to drive the car.
“But I need to sit down with him. I need to do a couple of things and then we will see.”
Other contenders and who are available include Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersuari and even Rubens Barrichello who raced to fifth place in the IndyCar race in Baltimore.
D’Ambrosio raced for Virgin in 2011, but was replaced by Charles Pic for the start of this season.
He has already driven this year’s Lotus E20 at the Mugello test, which took place after the Bahrain GP.