DECEMBER 3, 2002
Will it be Verstappen?
The Dutch are getting very excited about the possibility of Jos Verstappen being confirmed as a Minardi driver for next season but www.grandprix.com remains unconvinced that a deal is in the pipeline. And if that is the case, the only Dutchman who might be in line for the drive is Christjian Albers. That may sound an odd conclusion to have reached but close analysis of Albers's situation indicate that he is just as good a bet as his more famous fellow-countryman.
Remember that back in September there were rumors in Holland that Minardi was on the verge of signing a "double Dutch" team with Albers and Verstappen together, with the support of a number of sponsors including Lost Boys.
Albers's qualifications are good. He is only 24 but had a late start, beginning karting only at the age of 18. He quickly showed his natural talent by winning the 1997 Dutch and Benelux Formula Ford titles and jumped straight into Formula 3 in his second season in open-wheeler racing. He finished fifth in the series and was hired by Bertram Schafer for the 1999 season. He did not disappoint and won the German F3 title that year, with six race victories. In 2000 he moved to Formula 3000 with the European Arrows team, as team mate to Mark Webber but he did not have the money to go on in 2001 and so took a drive with the AMG factory Mercedes team in the German Toruing Car Championship. He has been testing and demonstrating for Minardi for the last two years, both with the regular F1 machinery and the team's fleet of two-seaters, so he has picked up a lot of F1 experience. In fact he will be in action for Minardi again at the Bologna Motor Show this weekend.
Signing up Albers would be a shock but Minardi has a long tradition of bringing on new talent (largely, it has to be said, because fast young drivers are cheaper to run than wellknown names although money has often been made in the past by selling on contracts to bigger teams.)
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