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Newcomers hunting race seats in Hungary 15 Aug 2004

Race winner Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Arden International.
International Formula 3000 Championship, Rd2, Barcelona, Spain, 8 May 2004

Traditionally the Hungarian Grand Prix is where the driver market begins to gather pace for the following season.

And while everyone is still discussing the fallout of Jenson Button’s intended switch from BAR to Williams, there are other driver movements happening in the background as they chase possible race seats at BAR, Sauber, Jaguar, Jordan and Minardi, and possible test drives at Williams, Sauber and Jaguar.

Formula Nippon series leader Richard Lyons was in town, the 24 year-old Irishman checking out the scene as he seeks to graduate. A multiple kart champion in his early days, who then went the Formula Vauxhall and Palmer Audi route before heading to Japan, Lyons is currently leading the Nippon series for the DoKoMo Dandelion team, with six pole and four strong victories from the seven events held so far and is also running strongly for Nissan in the GT series. Time was that the Japanese F3000 series was a haven for drivers of the calibre of Johnny Herbert, Eddie Irvine, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Mika Salo, and Ralf and Michael Schumacher, and the talented Lyons is hoping that the series’ day as the ultimate Formula One feeder category will come again. He had meetings with a number of Formula One team bosses.

The man that they are all beginning to appreciate most right now is Vitantonio Liuzzi, who many think will likely be confirmed as a Formula One driver for 2005 in the next month. Rain just before the start of Saturday’s F3000 race really upset things and after a gripping fight in the early stages with rival Enrico Toccacelo and former team-mate Patrick Friesacher, Luizzi came back strongly to chase Friesacher home after the Austrian drove an excellent race for Coloni Motorsport. Liuzzi extended his lead in the championship to 12 points over Toccacelo, 68 points to 56 with only two races left.