JUNE 21, 1999
Verstappen to test for BAR?
JOS VERSTAPPEN is tipped to become the British American Racing test driver next season, thanks to his strong connections with Honda - which will be supply the team with engines next year. Verstappen has done all the testing to date with Honda's own F1 car and looked like being left in the lurch when the company announced that it was not continuing with its Honda Racing Developments operation.
There have been a lot of rumors in recent days that Verstappen is being retained to help to develop not only the all-new V10 engine but also to a secret V12.
There is no doubt that Verstappen would be a useful recruit for BAR as its current test driver Patrick Lemarie has no qualification for a superlicence - which is why the team had to hire Mika Salo when Ricardo Zonta was injured recently. Verstappen has not given up his ambition to return to Grand Prix racing although the Dutch driver will have little chance if BAR continues its apparent policy of picking drivers based on British American Tobacco marketing plans rather than on F1 experience and speed. Zonta, it should be remembered, is still contracted to McLaren and if he were to move on the Brazilian arm of BAT - Souza Cruz - would probably like another Brazilian. BAR went to a great deal of trouble trying to sign CART driver Gil de Ferran last year.
There are also reports that Japanese driver Shinji Nakano will become the full-time Jordan test driver next year.