Ever-present on the FIA Formula E Championship grid since the inception of the championship, Jerome d’Ambrosio has driven for Dragon Racing in every ePrix in the three-season history of the series.
E-racing365 recently met with Dragon’s Technical Director, Nigel Beresford, who gave a rare insight in to what it’s like working with one of the few race-winning Formula E drivers.
D’Ambrosio is off the back of a disappointing season with the Faraday Future Dragon Racing. It was a season in which a slim picking of seventh position at the season-opening Hong Kong ePrix could barely be called a highlight.
There were flashes of positivity, such as starting fifth in New York and a reasonably strong finish in Montreal at least took a small amount of the sting away.
Beresford, who has formed a close bond with d’Ambrosio, believes the Belgian has a distinctive characteristic in modern racing drivers: loyalty.
“Jerome is very interesting. The only other driver I have ever worked with, and they are two utterly different personalities, is Rick Mears in terms of the dedication to the team,” said Beresford, a 40-year motorsports veteran.
“I mean Rick Mears is Penske through and through and even now, decades after he retired, he is still deeply involved in the team.
“Similarly, Jerome sees Dragon as his team, his family. He makes a lot of sacrifices on behalf of the team in terms of his personal freedom.
“For example, he wanted to be on vacation for a few weeks, but we had a test scheduled, and so he came back from the South Pacific to attend that test [specifically]!”
Beresford believes part of the genuine warmth is to do with d’Amrosio’s work ethic, which is usually seen by only the nucleus of the team when they are pounding around Calafat or Varano for days at a time.
“Jerome is a driver who will do whatever he needs to get the job done,” Beresford said. “He is always available and happy to jump on a plane.
“He cares deeply about Dragon. As you know, he is also tremendously presentable and professional and he is something of a polyglot, speaking three or four languages.
“He is a very intelligent guy who is stitched into the fabric of the team, which he is very much a part of.”
A propensity to push the limits, even in testing, and also give no quarter to former teammate Loic Duval are barely criticisms at all, according to Beresford.
“My only slight criticism of Jerome as a test driver is that he tends to drive at nine-and-a-half tenths, rather than nine-tenths during testing,” he said. “So he is really operating at the fastest level that he can. But he certainly gives us direction.”
D’Ambrosio is of Italian roots and for Beresford there are hints of one of his former charges, in Jean Alesi.
“In a few ways he is a little like Jean; he certainly has the same shocking blue eyes,” said Beresford, who engineered the French-Sicilian at Tyrell in 1989 and 1990.
“With Jerome, there is a very keen intelligence at work and sometimes it is weeks after the event that you wake up to what it was he was maneuvering into place. He’s a fantastic asset.”