Baumgartner in Talks Over Minardi Seat

After seeing his chances of getting a Jordan race seat for 2004 fading, Hungary's first Formula One driver, Zsolt Baumgartner has contacted Minardi about a possible move to the Faenza-based team, it has been revealed today.

Baumgartner in Talks Over Minardi Seat

After seeing his chances of getting a Jordan race seat for 2004 fading, Hungary's first Formula One driver, Zsolt Baumgartner has contacted Minardi about a possible move to the Faenza-based team, it has been revealed today.

"We have contacted Paul Stoddart, the owner of Minardi, and we'll now have to see what happens" - Baumgartner's manager, Tamas Frank told Hungarian news agency MTI.

22-year old Baumgartner had originally been signed by Jordan to drive in the two-hour test sessions of the German and Hungarian Grands Prix, but was later promoted to the race seat, when Briton Ralph Firman suffered light injuries in an accident during free practice at the Hungaroring.

After taking part in his first Formula One race ahead of his home crowd, he also raced a Jordan EJ13 in Monza, where he finished 11th. The Silverstone-based team have then offered him a contract for the 2004 season in October, provided he can raise the necessary funds.

As only CIB Bank, insurance company Uniqa, and Hungary's leading oil company Mol Rt. have been willing to assist his career so far, and time is beginning to run out as the new season approaches, Baumgartner's management faces an increasingly difficult task. Hungarian business daily NAPI Gazdasag reported last week that about US$ 3 million was missing from the budget required by the Jordan team.

Since most Hungarian firms are not interested in the international market targeted by Formula One, they are reluctant to pay Baumgartner a sum of this magnitude. A bizarre plan to start him in Austrian colors instead of Hungarian in the hope of getting more potential sponsors interested have also been rejected lately.

On top of the financial problems, Baumgartner faces tough opposition for the Jordan seat. German Nick Heidfeld, who left Sauber at the end of the 2003 season, has signed a preliminary contract with the squad, while Ralph Firman, Jos Verstappen and Heinz-Harald Frentzen are also likely candidates.

Although Minardi seems to be a cheaper alternative, and thus could keep Baumgartner's hopes of getting a permanent Formula One drive alive, it remains to be seen if Paul Stoddart is interested in hiring him.

Stoddart told Reuters on Wednesday that he would like to retain the experienced Jos Verstappen who, thanks to his strong backing, could bring a welcome amount of money to his team.

Briton Justin Wilson, released by Jaguar Racing at the end of the season after just five races, would also like to return to Minardi, while Renault-protege Jose Maria Lopez and Heikki Kovalainen, India's Narain Karthikeyan and Austrian Norbert Siedler are all scheduled to test for the Faenza-based team this week.

shares
comments
Minardi Kick Off Vallelunga Test

Previous article

Minardi Kick Off Vallelunga Test

Next article

Mosley wants penalty change

Mosley wants penalty change
Load comments
The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1 Plus

The ‘backwards step’ that is the right move for Formula 1

OPINION: With its days apparently numbered, the MGU-H looks set to be dropped from Formula 1’s future engine rules in order to entice new manufacturers in. While it may appear a change of direction, the benefits for teams and fans could make the decision a worthwhile call

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots Plus

The floundering fortunes of F1’s many Lotus reboots

Team Lotus ceased to exist in 1994 - and yet various parties have been trying to resurrect the hallowed name, in increasingly unrecognisable forms, ever since. DAMIEN SMITH brings GP Racing’s history of the legendary team to an end with a look at those who sought to keep the flame alive in Formula 1

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background Plus

Why the 2021 title fight is far from F1's worst, despite its toxic background

OPINION: Formula 1 reconvenes for the Russian Grand Prix two weeks after the latest blow in ‘Max Verstappen vs Lewis Hamilton’. While the Silverstone and Monza incidents were controversial, they thankfully lacked one element that so far separates the 2021 title fight from the worst examples of ugly championship battles

Formula 1
Sep 22, 2021
How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus Plus

How F1’s other champion to emerge from 1991 thrived at Lotus

Mika Hakkinen became Michael Schumacher’s biggest rival in Formula 1 in the late-90s and early 2000s, having also made his F1 debut in 1991. But as MARK GALLAGHER recalls, while Schumacher wowed the world with a car that was eminently capable, Hakkinen was fighting to make his mark with a famous team in terminal decline

Formula 1
Sep 21, 2021
The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey  Plus

The forgotten F1 comeback that began Jordan’s odyssey 

Before Michael Schumacher – or anyone else – had driven the 191 (or 911 as it was initially called), Eddie Jordan turned to a fellow Irishman to test his new Formula 1 car. JOHN WATSON, a grand prix winner for Penske and McLaren, recalls his role in the birth of a legend…

Formula 1
Sep 20, 2021
The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog Plus

The squandered potential of a 70s F1 underdog

A podium finisher in its first outing but then never again, the BRM P201 was a classic case of an opportunity squandered by disorganisation and complacency, says STUART CODLING

Formula 1
Sep 18, 2021
The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from Plus

The other notable Monza escape that F1 should learn from

OPINION: The headlines were dominated by the Italian Grand Prix crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, who had the halo to thank for avoiding potentially serious injury. But two days earlier, Formula 1 had a lucky escape with a Monza pitlane incident that could also have had grave consequences

Formula 1
Sep 17, 2021
How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum Plus

How Monza only added more questions to F1's sprint race conundrum

With two sprint races under its belt, Formula 1 must now consider its options for them going forward. While they've helped deliver exciting racing on Sundays, the sprints themselves have been somewhat lacking - creating yet another conundrum for F1 to solve...

Formula 1
Sep 16, 2021