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Doornbos to replace Speed at Toro Rosso? UPDATE #10 (GMM)  Official confirmation is still lacking, but team co-owner Gerhard Berger again said Toro Rosso will contest the 2007 season with the same race drivers.

Scuppering speculation that Robert Doornbos could oust Scott Speed after just one year on the grid, Berger said the Californian rookie and Vitantonio Liuzzi will again be teammates when the circus reconvenes in Australia next March.

"We are not going to change our drivers," Austrian Berger told the magazine 'Kicker'.

Of the delay, he explained: "Before we could announce our drivers we had to settle other things, such as the engine, and we have done that now."

Toro Rosso will be powered by Ferrari V8s in 2007, after lengthy negotiations with the Maranello marque paved the way for sister team Red Bull to use a Renault engine next year.

11/11/06 Scuderia Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger says he has no intention to sign Red Bull's Robert Doornbos and he has no idea were the stories are coming from.

The stories are of course coming from the Doornbos camp. As Planet-F1 published on Tuesday the 7th the young drivers spokesperson stated that possible talks were underway and that things may be settle within the next month.

Berger has often hinted that he was likely to retain both Scott Speed and Tonio Liuzzi for the 2007 season but poor showings in the last couple of round of the 2006 season have reportedly not pleased the Austrian team boss

With his Red Bull connection Doornbos may well be considered a likely STR option but Berger has denied any move for the 2006 Red Bull test driver.

"I know nothing about these rumors," Berger told Austria's Salzburger Nachtrichten newspaper.

"It's true that we haven't confirmed our drivers for 2007, but that is because we were busy with other things in the last few weeks.

"Now that the engine question has been cleared, we can think about it, but the choice won't be made officially until after Didi [Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz] and I get together."

Another factor heavily in the favor of Doornbos is of course the great sponsorship deals the Dutchmen bring to a team, but even taking into account Berger said the move was not on cards.

"There will be no surprises, but the one thing I can say is that Robert Doornbos plays no role in our considerations. And his sponsorship will not either." PlanetF1

11/08/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. Gerhard Berger has moved to cool speculation that Toro Rosso is on the verge of axing American racer Scott Speed after only a single season in F1.

The Faenza based team's co-owner responded cagily to reports that Dutchman Robert Doornbos could be accommodated alongside Vitantonio Liuzzi in 2007, but indicated that the gossip might be wide of the mark.

"The driver question will be answered officially only after Didi (Dietrich Mateschitz) and I discuss it, but there will not be any great surprises," Berger, 47, was quoted as saying by the Austrian newspaper 'Salzburger Nachrichten'.

Former grand prix winner Berger hinted several times towards the end of last season that Toro Rosso would be almost certainly stick with Speed and Liuzzi, and now adds: "I only want to say this -- Robert Doornbos is not playing a role in our deliberations."

He also rejected suggestions that the Italian squad could be attracted by drivers with personal sponsorship dollars.

This of course if great news for Champ Car and Paul Stoddart as now it is likely Doornbos will drive for Stoddart's team in Champ Car.  We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page accordingly.

11/07/06 A reader writes, This is why Formula 1 is not on my top list of must see. Politics in racing really ruin the sport. Scott should be allowed to continue with the ride that he has, he has earned it. Now they are going to throw a guy in because he has money behind him. This is why we don't see drivers like Senna, Prost, Jackie Stewart, etc. If you have money you race. If you don't have money stay in karts. If Scott gets booted out, I hope he is able to sue. Would it be nice to see him in Champ Car, of course. But he earned his chance at F1. Let him do it. Peter Swanson, Crockett, CA

Another writes, If Bernie allows Scott Speed to be dropped, Tony will take a bath at the USGP next year. No Juan, Jacques, and Scott. They were the 3 big draws in the US. Along with Michael retiring and the place will be empty. Maybe Bernie realizes it's only a matter of time before Tony has to merge (16 to 24 cars) with Champ Car and he is doing damage control before it even happens. Greg Johnson, Bloomington. MN. 

11/07/06 We are upgrading this rumor to 'strong' as it just seems to not go away and Bernie Ecclestone is not going to let the Muermans money behind Doornbos go to Champ Car.

(GMM) Team co-owner Gerhard Berger has added fuel to speculation that Toro Rosso is considering replacing Scott Speed with Robert Doornbos for the 2007 season.

The fact that the Faenza based squad is among the very last to confirm its race lineup for next year has invigorated suggestions that energy drink Red Bull is keen to accommodate Dutchman Doornbos.

He was a test driver for the senior team this year, and was promoted to the race seat following Christian Klien's departure late in the season.

Doornbos has also received an offer to remain Red Bull Racing's test driver in 2007.

The gossip coincides with Toro Rosso's apparent discontent with the inconsistency of Californian rookie Speed, and Berger's rumored interest in the sponsor dollars that 25-year-old Doornbos could bring in.

Former grand prix driver Berger said: "(Co-owner) Dietrich Mateschitz and I will discuss the driver question soon. When the time is right, a decision will be made."

Berger, 47, also revealed that next year's Ferrari powered 'STR2' will be up and running some time in February.

He told the Austrian agency 'APA' of his maiden season as a team owner: "To beat two teams was our goal, and we did that.

"The team ahead of us was Williams, and compared to us they are a giant."

11/06/06 We will see Robert Doornbos in Formula One again in 2007. The 25-year-old Dutchman has received an offer to become Red Bull Racing's F1 test driver, but at the moment he is also negotiating a race seat with Toro Rosso F1Racing.net has learned Doornbos was Red Bull Racing's third and reserve driver in 2006. He took over Klien's position in the final three races, and has all eyes on 2007 at the moment. "Robert has receive an offer to become the team's test driver again in 2007, but we're negotiating with Scuderia Toro Rosso at the moment to get him a race seat," Robert's spokesperson told F1Racing.net. "In the next few weeks we'll be having meetings in Austria with them."

At Scuderia Toro Rosso Doornbos could take Scott Speed's position and join Liuzzi again. The duo was team-mates in 2004 when they raced at Arden in the F3000 championship. Red Bull is currently involved with Doornbos' position. "Red Bull Racing is involved with a possible contract at Toro Rosso. We hope to have Robert's future clear before the end of the month."

Doornbos wasn't available for his personal comments as he is currently enjoying a well deserved holiday at the Maldives. F1Racing.net

11/02/06 Robert Doornbos seems more and more likely to be sliding into a Scuderia Toro Rosso drive next year, alongside Tonio Liuzzi. If that happens Scott Speed is going to be looking for work although it is possible that Red Bull will help out its long-time protégé by funding a ride in America, perhaps alongside Neel Jani at PKV Racing. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: We have added Scott Speed to our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page]

10/30/06 This rumor appears to be 'false' based on Scott Speed claiming he has a watertight contract with Toro Rosso for next year.

“We have a contract for next year,” he confirmed. “It is great that I have this opportunity next year with Red Bull because they have been really supportive the whole time.”

However, with that said, we have seen contracts broken in F1 before, so nothing would surprise us. 

10/27/06 This rumor is upgraded back to 'speculation.' Red Bull has denied stories circulating in F1 circles that there may be a change at Scuderia Toro Rosso next year with Scott Speed being replaced by Robert Doornbos - but that does not mean that it is not going to happen. Scuderia Toro Rosso may have Red Bull signage all over it, but it is a joint venture between Red Bull and Gerhard Berger, as part of a larger deal that resulted in Dietrich Mateschitz buying 50% of the Berger Group, a transport company based in Radfeld near Innsbruck. This runs a large fleet of 220 trucks and also builds around 400 trailers a year. It employs 400 people and has a turnover of $120m.

Part of the deal was that Berger would run the team and that he would provide half the budget each year and it is this point that is raising questions about Doornbos as he is understood to have around $10m available from Har Muermans, a Dutch real estate developer, and Berger is interested in using that money because finding sponsorship for a team without major results is not easy - and Berger clearly does not wish to use his own money. Such a move might cause tension between Mateschitz and Berger as the Red Bull magnate has long nurtured Speed's career and wanted an American in his program. To make matters more complicated, Speed has done a decent job in his first year in F1, despite the poor quality of machinery which has been used. Dumping the American thus makes little sense, except for Berger's budgetary requirements. Grandprix.com

10/26/06 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today, which is good news for Champ Car. A spokesman for Red Bull's F1 teams has dismissed speculation that Italian squad Toro Rosso might replace race driver Scott Speed with Robert Doornbos for 2007.

A Dutch motor racing publication this week quoted a spokeswoman as saying: "It is not a secret that Robert wants to race, so there are talks with Toro Rosso because there could be an opportunity."

But Thomas Hofmann, who is head of communications for Red Bull F1 Marketing, said on Wednesday: "I also can read these stories, but please be sure, this is not coming from a serious spokesperson of the team."

10/23/06 [Editor's Note: If Doornbos is staying in F1 and not coming to Champ Car, that probably means Bernie has worked his magic to ensure the money stays in F1 and not move to Champ Car. If Doornbos is not coming, then his backer Harry Muermans is not coming and one has to wonder whether Paul Stoddart will come to Champ Car as well because it was always rumored that his entry was contingent on Muermans money, though that could change.]

(GMM) Red Bull could be on the verge of making a last-minute change to its formula one driver lineup for 2007.

Although Mark Webber and David Coulthard are securely contracted to race for the Milton Keynes based Red Bull Racing next year, the situation at sister squad Toro Rosso is reportedly not as assured.

It is rumored that Robert Doornbos, whose three race tenure at Red Bull ended with Sunday's Brazilian grand prix, might be in the running for a seat at the jointly Gerhard Berger and Dietrich Mateschitz-owned Italian 'STR' team for 2007.

The Dutchman's manager, Marco Zecchi, is apparently already in discussions with Toro Rosso chiefs, despite previous suggestions that the Faenza based team's line-up for 2007 would remain the same.

Scott Speed's is the seat that is reportedly up for grabs, with Berger thought to be concerned about the American rookie's inconsistency and attracted by the raft of sponsor dollars that Doornbos could bring in.

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