Whither Doornbos?

Holland's Robert Doornbos was expected to be one of the Jordan F1 drivers in 2005 and got a shock when the team's new owners decided to go with Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan. Doornbos did three races as the team's third driver at the end of 2004 and at the same time won his first victory in Formula 3000.

Doornbos's desire to get to F1 was ignited by a visit to the Belgian Grand Prix in 1998 as a VIP guest of Williams's sponsor Komatsu. Doornbos's family used to be the Komatsu importers and so there was no shortage of money for the junior formulae. Doornbos started racing in Formula Opel Lotus in the UK in 1999 and in 2000 moved to Formula Ford in the Benelux Championship. He finished second and in 2001 raced in the junior class of the British Formula 3 series. In 2002 he moved up to German F3 with Team Ghinzani and in 2003 took part in the inaugural F3 Euroseries. Last year he joined Arden International in Formula 3000 and won at Spa, finishing third in the championship.

Money might not be as easy as once it was because Doornbos B&N, the main family business, filed for bankruptcy in August last year. Komatsu has since done a new deal with a company called Bia BV. The Doornbos business is complicated however because the main company split around eight years ago and so there are a number of other Doornbos firms which are now unrelated to one another despite being in the same basic business and being headquartered in the same street.

Doornbos says that he is still trying to get a deal to drive in F1 and is talking about possible test drives with a number of teams. The teams who currently need test drivers are Minardi, Sauber and Jordan. It is possible that he could join one of the teams in the new GP2 series. There are several looking for another driver and Doornbos is believed to have some sponsorship available.

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