Exclusive interview - Doornbos raring to go 25 Sep 2006
Red Bulls Robert Doornbos will make his first Grand Prix start in almost a year this weekend when he takes to the grid in Shanghai. Following Christian Kliens departure, Doornbos steps up from third driver to race seat. Its a route that has already brought success this season for McLarens Pedro de la Rosa and BMW Saubers Robert Kubica. Now the Dutchman is hoping to join them and make his mark on the last three races of the season. Who knows, he may even catch the eye of a team boss still on the look-out for a 2007 race driver...
Q: After almost a year as Red Bulls third driver, how does it feel to be handed three race drives?
Robert Doornbos: Great! You always have to stay sharp as a third/reserve driver for when a chance like this one comes your way. Now its my time and Im 100 percent ready for it.
Q: Last season, driving an uncompetitive Minardi, you finished 14th in China and Japan and retired in Brazil. This year you are very familiar with the Red Bull car and team, and you seem satisfied with your preparations. How do you think youll perform?
RB: And believe me I was pushing very hard with that Minardi! Of course its a whole different ballgame now with RBR, were much more competitive. Our pre-race test last week in Jerez was indeed very positive. All three circuits are great, and I really look forward to race again on them and to get the maximum out of it! I intend to make the most out of it, hopefully luck comes a bit our way, and well be able to score some points!
Q: Some teams are still to finalise their line-ups for next season. Where do you see your future in Formula One racing?
RB: If you would have asked me this last season, I would not have expected to be a RBR driver at the same time a year down the road! Of course my dream goal is to become a successful Formula One driver in the future, but at the moment our 07 options are all still open. We have an offer from Red Bull to stay on next year as a test driver, but also other teams have shown interest. First Ill focus on these three races!
Q: The clock is ticking though, so you must have a back-up plan? DTM? Champ Car?
RB: Well, to be honest all eyes are on F1. If we had a plan B that would mean were not 100 percent focused on F1, which would not be good at this moment. Might none of our options come through, Im sure my management have other options outside F1 as well. But first lets wait and see for these three races!
Q: Your personality and image seem well-matched to Red Bull. Could you see yourself staying on as a test driver?
RB: Well, thank you very much yes, staying here at Red Bull is definitely an option. Im still young so time is on my side. But I have to admit that I cant wait to go out there racing to stay sharp. Might we not be able to race in F1 next year, maybe a combined role of testing and racing somewhere else would be a good option as well to stay fit and sharp.
Q: But with the elimination of Friday drivers next season, do you think it will be even tougher for Formula One hopefuls to get noticed?
RB: I made my F1 debut with Jordan at the end of 2004, so for sure it was a great opportunity for a guy like me who just came from the junior series (F3000 in my case). But for me, testing outside the weekends this year was even more important for my development. I dont think that testing outside Grand Prix weekends will be a dead end. Im sure guys like Alex Wurz, Robert Kubica and Anthony Davidson will agree with me!