Jerome d'Ambrosio will have his first taste of the Lotus E20 on the opening day of next week's Mugello Formula 1 test.
The Lotus reserve driver, who raced for Virgin last season but was unable to find a seat for 2012, has not driven since last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, except for a filming run in February in a 2010 Renault. The Belgian is scheduled to start work in the Lotus simulator on Tuesday ahead of his first taste of the new car on May 1.
"I can't wait until I'm back in the car," d'Ambrosio said. "It was November 2010 that I was last in a strong F1 car in the Renault in the Abu Dhabi test and stepping back into a competitive car is something I'm really looking forward to it. I've been out of the car for six months now and that's not easy as a racing driver.
"It's a difficult situation not to be able to drive much. When I chose this role with Lotus, it was because I knew that there was going to be some driving rather than just standing around. There will also be simulator work involved, which starts this week. We will prepare for Mugello there."
Lotus is expected to be among the teams trying a series of updates at Mugello and the Belgian insists that this will be his focus despite the outing meaning that he will be better prepared to step in should one of the team's race drivers be unavailable on a race weekend.
"It's not a day for myself, the important thing is to do the best job possible for the team," said d'Ambrosio. "It's an important test day for the team, so I will run to whatever program we need. I will test what needs to be tested. But it would be much more difficult to step in without this. You don't wish harm to drivers, but if something happens and I need to step in, I will have a day in the car under my belt and will be much more efficient.
"It will also allow me to do a better job in the simulator. So far, my job has been quiet, but now it really starts to be an active role. There is a trend that the third driver has a bigger role, which is good because it keeps us in shape for driving."
Kimi Raikkonen is scheduled to drive on the second day of the test, with Romain Grosjean taking over the Lotus on May 3.