JOHN Booth, the team principal of Marussia Virgin Racing, is confident Jerome D’Ambrosio will handle the pressure of competing in his home grand prix for the first time in his fledgling Formula One career this weekend.
D’Ambrosio will be the first Belgian to feature on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps since Lotus’s Philippe Adams in 1994.
It promises to be a serious test of the 25-year-old’s driving credentials but Booth, who is also the director of racing at the Dinnington-based team, fully expects the Etterbeek-born racer to rise to the occasion.
Booth told The Star: “There is a lot of pressure on Jerome’s shoulders with this being his home race. Everybody is going to want a piece of him from the press to the fans so we will have to be careful how we manage him over the course of the weekend.
“He is mentally a very strong young fellow so I’m sure he is going to enjoy the moment. Jerome has come back fresh from the summer break and he can’t wait to get cracking.”
Having replaced Lucas di Grassi last year in the second race seat at Virgin, D’Ambrosio has enjoyed a solid debut season in motor sport’s premier competition, recording a highest finish of 14th which he achieved in both Australia and Canada.
Booth acknowledges Spar will be a “special” weekend for D’Ambrosio and added: “I’m sure this will make him push even harder and it will be great to see all the Belgian fans supporting their driver at their home race.”
Although F1 bosses have banned the use of the DRS overtaking device at the famous Eau Rouge corner at the Belgian GP, Booth still expects it to play a major role in the outcome of the race.
Drivers can deploy the DRS system, which increases top speed by reducing cars’ downforce by about 10 per cent, mainly on straights.
“At some circuits, it (the DRS) can make a big difference,” said Booth. “Most of the overtaking in my mind this year has been down to the tyre degradation but Spa is one place where the straight is so long that the DRS will have a massive effect.
“It should make the race a very exciting spectacle.
“There are some absolutely fabulous corners in Spar which are right up there with some of the best in the world and the unpredictable weather should make it a great race.”