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Biography

SEASON INFORMATION
13/01/2018

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Biography

 

In 1999, still aged 18, Robert Doornbos finished runner-up in the Opel Lotus UK Winter Series, taking 4 wins, 4 poles and 4 fastest laps for Team JR Racing.

The following season he contested the Formula Ford Zetec Benelux and Belgian Championships, finishing 5th in one series and runner-up in the other.

For 2001 he returned to the UK, where he competed in the Scholarship class of the prestigious F3 championship. Robert greatly impressed, finishing 2nd in the Grand Prix support race at Silverstone, and eventually finishing fifth in the championship.

In 2002 he contested the German F3 Championship with Team Ghinzani, and though he failed to win any races, he remained with the team for 2003, contesting the European F3 Championship. In addition to seven visits to the podium, Robert took pole position at Spa, for the 'Masters Meeting', and finished 2nd in the Korean GP.

In 2004, with support from Red Bull, he joined reigning F3000 Champions, Arden International, where he was partnered by Italian sensation Vitantonio Liuzzi.

A number of strong performances, particularly at Spa, where he scored a fine win, saw Robert finish third in the championship.

Days ahead of the inaugural China GP, Jordan revealed that Robert would join the team as 'third driver', replacing Timo Glock who had been promoted to a full race seat in the wake of Giorgio Pantano's funding 'drying up'.

In early 2005 it appeared that Robert's options were limited, and having 'tasted' F1 it was unlikely that the Dutchman wished to participate in GP2. Then in mid-February it was rumoured that Robert was to take up a testing role with Jordan, which by now had been bought and by Russian billionaire Alex Shnaider of Midland F1.

On February 25, Robert was appointed official test and reserve driver for the Silverstone based outfit.

In 2004, another driver's 'funding problems' led to Robert getting the Jordan 'reserve seat', ironically, a similar situation in 2005 led to the Dutchman making his F1 race debut.

After weeks of speculation it was confirmed that Patrick Friesacher had been unable to fulfil his financial commitments to Minardi, consequently, at the Nurburgring Robert joined fellow 'Dutchie' Christijan Albers on the grid.

In his eight outings for the Faenza team, Robert gave a good account of himself, and, despite the obvious limitations of the equipment at his disposal, more than held his own against his teammate.

When Red Bull bought Minardi, it wasn't impossible to envisage the Dutchman being retained as test driver for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006, instead he was drafted in to the Austrian company's 'A-team', as 'Friday driver' and reserve to David Coulthard and Christian Klien.

At the end of 2005, his former teammate, Albers, made various disparaging comments to the Dutch media, claiming that Minardi failed to improve with Robert on board, and basically rubbishing the 24-year-old's performances.

At the time our sources at Minardi claimed that the team was more than happy with Robert's contribution, and still rated him highly. Indeed, the fact that he secured the test seat with Red Bull, a team which appears to be determined to buy the best available, certainly appeared to support Minardi's belief.

Throughout 2006 Robert did his job, taking part in numerous tests and giving a good account of himself in Friday practice.

When rumours of a rift between the team and Christian Klien first surfaced, Robert was immediately touted as a contender for the full race seat in 2007. Little did anyone realise that he would get his opportunity even sooner.

After Monza, Klien's relationship with Red Bull went pear-shaped and as the Austrian was shown the door, Robert was brought in for the final three races. For the second successive season, the Dutchman was getting an F1 drive due to the misfortunes of another driver.

The shortcomings of the RB2 didn't exactly allow Robert to sparkle, however, he out-qualified his highly-experienced teammate (Coulthard) twice, and brought the car home in all three races he contested. Indeed, though he only contested three Grand Prix, in terms of laps completed Robert has the best finishing record of all 27 drivers that took part in the 2006 World Championship.

For 2007, Robert is retained as test driver with Red Bull, though ahead of the announcement there were rumours of a race seat with Toro Rosso and even a Champ Car drive with Minardi Team USA, with whom the Dutchman tested at Sebring in January. However, he opted to stick with Red Bull.

On the one hand, the new rules, which see an end to the 'Friday driver', mean we will probably see less of Robert in 2007. However, with Red Bull's policy of musical chairs, not to mention its determination to come down hard on errant drivers, who's to say we won't see Robert 'deputising' for David, Mark, Tonio or Scott before the season is out?

Statistics - Prior to 2007 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 2
Grand Prix: 11
Wins: 0
Points: 0
Poles: 0
Fastest Laps: 0

Best result in 2006: 12th (China and Brazil)
Best qualifying 2006: 10th (China)
Worst qualifying 2006: 18th (Japan)
Average grid position 2006: 14.33
2006: Out-qualified David Coulthard 2 times
2006: Out-qualified by David Coulthard 1 time

2006: Completed: 177 out of 179 laps (98.88%)
2006: Finished 3 times from 3 starts (100%)

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