At next week's test in Mugello, Jérôme will get his first taste of the E20 as he takes the wheel for the first session of the three day event. Needless to say, the team's ever-enthusiastic third driver is keen to grasp the opportunity with both hands…
Jérôme, you've been travelling with the team all season helping to develop the E20; you must be pleased to finally have the chance to get behind the wheel?
“It's an amazing opportunity for me, and I'd like to thank Lotus F1 Team for giving me the chance to experience the E20; it's a great car and I can't wait to drive it! I know the team from my rookie day in Abu Dhabi in 2010, and I've felt very comfortable at Enstone this year which I'm sure will be a big help. I've said all along that a third driver position with a top team would be much better for my career this year, and I'm starting to see the benefits of that strategy. I've learnt a lot so far with Lotus F1 Team, and this is just the beginning.”
The timing of the test at Mugello this year has worked out well for you, as effectively it's provided an opportunity to drive the car which you may not otherwise have had…
Yes, exactly. The fact that the test comes four races into the season means that the race drivers are already familiar with the car and all the procedures. Of course, Kimi and Romain had been out of Formula 1 for two years, so it was important for them to get the most track time possible during winter testing. Now though, they're fully up to speed and it's great that we get one day each to help the team find some extra performance from the car.
From a personal perspective, how beneficial with this day be for you in your day-to-day with role with the team?
It's going to be very valuable for me. This will be the first time I've been in a Formula 1 car for six months, which feels like a long time, and also I'll get to try out the E20 which will help me to get a feel for how the car handles, and therefore improve my ability to help the team with developments in the simulator.
Have you spoken to the engineers about the programme you're going to run during the session?
Not yet no. We've only just got back from Bahrain and there's a lot of work to do analysing the data from the race. I know we have some new parts to test, but other than that we're waiting for the chance to draw up a schedule. We'll sit down and go through it in the coming days.
A great result for the team in Bahrain; have you noticed a difference in the atmosphere back at Enstone since your return?
It's great to be part of a team that's moving upwards. Ever since the first test it's been clear to see how motivated everyone around the factory is, and this result has given the whole place an extra boost. We've felt all year that the car was capable of making the podium, but somehow things hadn't quite fallen into place until Bahrain. Finally, everything came together in the last race and we didn't just achieve a double podium, but also came very close to the win. I believe if we keep pushing then Kimi and Romain can be standing on the podium again this season, hopefully even on the top step.