Exclusive interview with Robert Doornbos 09 Aug 2007
With the annual merry-go round for 2008 driver seats already in full swing, the attention of the Formula One paddock has also been focused on the outcome of this years Champ Car series.
Sebastien Bourdais and Robert Doornbos - both with recognised Red Bull connections - are fighting it out for the Stateside championship. And with the promise of a Formula One contract for the winner a real possibility, rookie Doornbos is keen to beat established talent Bourdais
Q: You now have a second Champ Car victory under your belt. You started the turbulent San Jose race back in 15th - could it be that the Red Bull overalls are as lucky for you as they were for your Formula One counterparts, who proved successful at the tumultuous European Grand Prix?
Robert Doornbos: I think my Red Bull overalls are working really well, and my team mates at Red Bull Racing did a great job and scored some well deserved points for the championship. To be honest the race at the Nurburgring was a bit more complex than our one in San Jose
Q: The Champ Car championship seems as tight as its Formula One equivalent. How does it feel to know that you have a real shot of winning the title?
RD: Obviously its the best feeling to be winning races and fighting with your team for a championship in F1 or in Champ Cars. We are a small team compared to Newman-Haas-Lanigan but are getting stronger with every race and our confidence is growing.
Q: You are currently battling with fellow Formula One hopeful Sebastien Bourdais. While you are a rookie in a rookie team, three-time champion Bourdais knows all the tracks and races for an established squad. Do you feel you are at a disadvantage?
RD: We have to be honest and admit that Newman-Haas-Lanigan is the benchmark in the series with their 100 victories, their multiple championships and their driver Sebastien. But I have good engineers and mechanics and we work really hard to give them a real good run for their money!
Q: Obviously, your driving skills enable you to race for podiums, but why do you think your brand-new team has been able to challenge more established rivals so quickly?
RD: Thanks for the compliment but dont forget that Keith Wiggins whos running the team knows how to be successful, as he has proved it in the past. And, like I said, I have some good engineers and mechanics and we just need to work the best we can with the resources we have. Yes, it would be better if the team finds a sponsor who can contribute some money into developing the cars more, but at the moment we do the maximum we can!
Q: Could Formula One expertise - on both the driver and the team management sides - be one reason?
RD: I feel very mature as a driver and Im still learning every day, but to have reached this level I am very grateful for my two years spent in F1. During testing and racing for Red Bull Racing, I learnt a lot about setting up cars and finding the limit. In now use this experience in the United States to help myself and the team forward up the grid.
Q: Teams must be lining up to get you back into Formula One racing on a more permanent basis?
RD: People in F1 have certainly shown an interest. All the team principals have got my phone number, so they know how to reach me
Q: It was recently asserted that there are not enough drivers talented enough to fill all the Formula One cockpits. Would you agree?
RD: I dont agree for myself of course! I do know that it is hard to show what you really can do in a F1 car before you have a really competitive car. If you are driving for a small team - like Ive done - you must beat your team mate and on occasion try to shine and put in a good performance in the hope a big team will start to take notice of you. Like this season, you have two talents in Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil making their debut. One is in the very competitive McLaren and the other in the Spyker and I think it speaks for itself that Lewis is doing an amazing job, but it is also clear Adrian has done very well to shine on moments like the wet practice in Monaco and by beating his team mates. For myself, it was a huge motivation boost when I got the chance to race with Red Bull Racing last season and to have a team mate like David Coulthard. That was for me the best benchmark to have and, even though we werent fighting for the podium or points, I was still trying very hard to beat him and this worked. Unfortunately, nothing opened up for a full-time seat for this season in F1, but Im enjoying my Champ Car season very much.
Q: Racing for wins must be very satisfying but, if that call did come, would you want to return to Formula One racing?
RD: In the right circumstances I would really like to race and be back in F1, because all I focus on is becoming a successful driver either in Champ Car or F1!