JANUARY 18, 2004
Verstappen does not like to be left dangling
Jos Verstappen and his manager Michel Perridon made a big mistake some weeks ago when they announced to the world that they were no longer in negotiation with Minardi. That meant that Verstappen had only one drive left open to him and that gave Eddie Jordan the whip hand in all negotiations. Those negotiations have been dragging on throughout the Christmas period and now the Dutch are beginning to feel uneasy about the situation.
Michel Perridon is trying to push Jordan into making a decision, demanding an immediate answer to the proposition put forward by Verstappen and his sponsors.
If Jordan calls his bluff, Verstappen could find himself out of a drive, despite having more sponsorship than anyone else on the F1 driver market at the moment.
"There is a probability that Jordan will not accept but that's the risk. If that's the case, we will look for other opportunities behind the scenes throughout the season," Perridon told the Dutch press. This is not much good as Verstappen could not test on Fridays because he has competed in too many events in the last two years.
The Dutch are hoping that Jordan has no other options which will pay him as much money as Verstappen is promising. This may be the case but we hear that Jordan is not keen to meet Perridon's demands for space on the car and may settle for a situation in which he takes a different driver for less money but still has space left on the car which he can sell to other sponsors. There are believed to be several drivers around with between $5m-$6m including Japan's Satoshi Motoyama and perhaps Bas Leinders and Christjian Albers. There are also the two Renault drivers who tested recently for Minardi Jose-Maria Lopez and Heikki Kovalainen. It is also possible that Toyota might agree to fund a drive for Ryan Briscoe so the youngster can learn the ropes in F1. It is unlikely however that he would be allowed to test for Toyota (which uses Michelin) and test for a team which used Bridgestone as so as Minardi already has two drivers under contract, his only real option in 2004 is to race for Jordan or have a quiet year as the second Toyota test driver.
Such a relationship might also be helpful for Jordan in the long-term as becoming close to Toyota would help him with engines in the future. Jordan asked Toyota for engines in 2004 but the request was turned down.
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