Baumgartner Hoping to Stay in F1

Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner is considering his future options after finishing his first full Formula One season with Minardi in good spirits.

Baumgartner Hoping to Stay in F1

Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner is considering his future options after finishing his first full Formula One season with Minardi in good spirits.

23-year old Baumgartner, who has scored in the US Grand Prix a much wanted point for the struggling Minardi outfit, finished 16th in last Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, beating his Italian teammate, Gianmaria Bruni on the way.

Baumgartner now hopes to continue his career in Formula One, admitting that he would accept a testing role as well.

"I desperately want to stay in Formula One as a racing driver, but if I won't have the opportinity to do that, I would be glad to be a test driver for a renowned team," he said, speaking at a press conference in Budapest. He also claimed that Minardi boss Paul Stoddart would be happy to retain his services in 2005.

"Paul Stoddart told me he would like me to stay, because he thought my performances have been very even throughout the year. He said he would do everything he could to help me, so that we could continue together."

However, Baumgartner faces a tough task ahead if he wants to stay in Formula One, because he is unlikely to be able to raise the same amount of sponsorship money as he managed for this season.

He himself admitted this was the case, even stating he thought it was "nearly impossible" to do a deal similar to this year's. Still, his manager Tamas Frank told Hungarian website A5.hu that Minardi would let Baumgartner - now considered to be a more experienced driver - race for less money in 2005.

Baumgartner believes his future lies with either Minardi or Jordan. He also considers the successor of Jaguar Racing a distinct possibility, saying he would like them to give him a testing opportunity, although with the problems the team faces at the moment, it is unlikely that they are ready to talk to him.

And the question of a testing role raises other difficulties: under the current regulations no driver who has started more than six races during the last two seasons is allowed to drive a team's third car in the Friday test sessions.

This doesn't make Baumgartner very attractive to back of the grid teams, such as Minardi and Jordan, since he would only be able to drive for them in separate test sessions between races.

"I would be extremely lucky if I could stay in Formula One as a racing driver next year," admitted Baumgartner, who now has twenty Grand Prix starts to his name.

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