Grapevine: Baumgartner in Sponsorship Trouble

Minardi driver Zsolt Baumgartner may fail to appear on the 2004 Formula One grid after the Hungarian press reported on Friday that one of his main backers, oil company Mol Rt., wanted to reduce the amount of sponsorship promised to him last year.

Grapevine: Baumgartner in Sponsorship Trouble

Minardi driver Zsolt Baumgartner may fail to appear on the 2004 Formula One grid after the Hungarian press reported on Friday that one of his main backers, oil company Mol Rt., wanted to reduce the amount of sponsorship promised to him last year.

Mol Rt. spokeswoman Bea Lukacs told Hungarian television RTL Klub that the company decided to review its position because Baumgartner has signed for Minardi instead of Jordan, contrary to his original plans.

"We had signed a memorandum of understanding last year, which has only been valid in specific circumstances. This memorandum was not a binding agreement. Mol Rt. started the negotiations in light of the conditions, which have changed since then," the spokeswoman said.

23-year-old Baumgartner, who signed a race contract with Minardi for the 2004 season last December, had originally been offered a seat by Jordan, after making his Formula One debut with them at the Hungarian Grand Prix in August. However, his management couldn't raise the funds wanted by the Silverstone-based squad, and therefore contacted Minardi owner Paul Stoddart about the drive.

Mol Rt. has reportedly promised Baumgartner $US 1.5 million last year. According to RTL Klub, the company wants to reduce this sum by about $US 470,000, although local radio station Klub Radio reported that it refused to pay him more than $US 284,000.

Whichever is the truth, Baumgartner faces serious trouble, since the Hungarian Ministry of Sports and Youth was only willing to pay him the same amount of money he raised from private sponsors, and without the government backing he wouldn't be able to get the Minardi seat.

The government has "invested" in Baumgartner's career by setting up a company that owns all his marketing rights, and Viktor Szigetvari, spokesman to the Ministry of Sports and Youth confirmed to RTL Klub on Friday that they still maintained the offer. However, he added, "now it's Baumgartner's turn to come up with the $US 4 million sponsorship, which is prerequisite for the government backing."

His manager, Tamas Frank was unavailable for comment, though Baumgartner said he "hoped" the matter would be cleared up.

"I've heard the reports. I hope this is only a misunderstanding and my management will be able to sort it out soon. In any case, I will continue my preparations in the same way as before," he told Hungarian news agency MTI.

Baumgartner, who has finished 12th in last year's Italian Grand Prix in Monza, would become the first Hungarian to have a permanent drive in Formula One.

shares
comments
Wilson frustrated by ruling
Previous article

Wilson frustrated by ruling

Next article

Button Aims for Race Wins with BAR in 2004

Button Aims for Race Wins with BAR in 2004
Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022
The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared Plus

The Moss-Ferrari farce that current F1 drivers are thankfully spared

Recent moves within the driver market have reminded MAURICE HAMILTON of a time when contracts weren’t worth the paper they weren’t written on…

Formula 1
Sep 24, 2022