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DATE News (chronologically)
02/20/07
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Verstappen, Doornbos in fight over race seat  UPDATE #7 In this article on his website Jos Verstappen Former grand prix driver Jos Verstappen has ruled out racing in the US-based Champ Car series in 2007.  The popular Dutchman, who contested more than 100 F1 races until 2003, revealed recently that he was in talks with the Forsythe team, but on Tuesday he said they had not reached a deal.

On his official website, the 34-year-old is quoted as blaming "politics and money". "A number of teams were interested but we have run out of time for me to be prepared well enough," Verstappen reportedly said by phone.  He lamented the bad news by reflecting that he could have "sold out" Champ Car's new Dutch round if a team had snapped him up, "but apparently it is difficult for a driver to find a seat these days if he wants to be paid."  He has been removed from our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page above.

02/12/07 Jos Verstappen says in this exclusive interview with Racexpress that he leaves the door open to get into Champ Car this year, even though he's not testing at Houston this week.  He indicates his people are now in communication with another team.  Perhaps Forsythe Racing wanted too much money and he will end up with perhaps a Conquest Racing, Minardi or Dale Coyne, who can usually field a car at a lower cost.

02/11/07 A reader from Holland writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Not having Verstappen in Champ Car will indeed result in a drop of 25,000 from the Assen race but even more from the Zolder race, as Zolder is much closer to the south of The Netherlands where most of the Dutch fan base of Verstappen are living. By the way: The Verstappen family lives in Belgium, around 20 km from the Zolder circuit and Jos is married to the daughter (Sophie) of one of the 'shareholders' of the Zolder circuit: Paul Kumpen.
 
The owners of CCWS apparently won't care less if the Europe races fail as they have sold the European race rights to Bart Rietbergen (Champ Car Europe) for an undisclosed figure which they will receive in any case. Both the European Champ Car race promoters though, Bart Rietbergen (Assen) and Meindert van Buuren (sub-contracted to promote Zolder) should start scratching their heads, as a certain seeming profit, for example from ticket sales, will now be significantly diminished.... Local 'heroes' like Doornbos and Heylen will help a little, but that’s about it ....
 
In the attachment you will find information about TV figures from RTL Television (Netherlands). It compares the number of A1GP live broadcasting viewers between the 05 - 06 season and the 06 - 07 (so far), or in other words the Verstappen and the non-Verstappen era. In total numbers have more than halved. These are the average numbers:
 
Year Qualifying Race 1 Race 2
05-06 78,000 123,000 166,000
06-07 21,000 58,000 88,000
 
Unfortunately the popularity of Doornbos is not even half of Verstappen’s (by far!) .... so I won't even mention Pastorelli or Zwolsman or even Heylen (for the Belgian fans) ....I wonder were this will lead to .....

At last years (05) A1GP race in Germany (Lausitz), there were more Dutch (i.e. Verstappen) fans (+/- 5,000) in the grandstands then Germans (total number 7.500). The Dutch fans had to travel around 750 km to get there. They also followed Verstappen all the around the globe in reasonable numbers (not in their thousands to Australia, of course). One can spot Dutch fans quite easily, as they wear orange clothing (in any sport and in all sorts of forms) and wave the Dutch flag (red-white-blue) enthusiastically. Apart from Zandvoort (where tickets were sold when everybody was still thinking Verstappen would compete) we (the Dutch) haven't seen anymore 'Dutch fans' at A1GP meetings.

As a big Champ Car fan I want to see Champ Car succeed in Europe this time, but unfortunately without Verstappen and his huge following, that appears doubtful. I have read where you said on several occasions that heroes make a sport, and this is just as true in Europe as it is in America. And if I can add, Ho-Pin Tung lives here in Holland but he is of course Chinese. I can tell you that he is the only Chinese driver that the media follows over there. I see no signs of him in Champ Car either, so the Zhuhai race won't be around long either. I was hoping with its new owners things would be different, but unfortunately I think Champ Car has a death wish. Marc Janssen

02/11/07 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Forsythe Racing will only test Paul Tracy in Houston, meaning Jos Verstappen (pictured right at the Durban, South Africa A1GP race last year) must have not been able to close the deal. He said he needed to test in Houston if he was to race this year, so unless he tests with another team, his chances of landing a Champ Car ride in 2007 have severely diminished. Strike about 25,000 people from Sunday's attendance in Assen, Holland as a result.....such is the huge popularity of Verstappen in Holland.

02/10/07 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Minardi Team USA will be running Robert Doornbos at MSR Houston on Monday and Tuesday of this coming week.  If Doornbos is again testing for Minardi that would indicate that he is not the driver who is trying to outbid Verstappen for the second Forsythe seat and we expect that is either Nelson Philippe or Tiago Monteiro if he is indeed out of the running for any F1 seat as it now appears.  We hear that Verstappen has come up with a good deal of sponsorship, we assume from Trust.  If both Verstappen and Doornbos drive in Champ Car in 2007 expect the two European races to attract huge crowds.  And of course rumors persist that another Dutchman, Nicky Pastorelli, is trying to do a deal with Paul Gentilozzi's team.

02/10/07 Recall our previous rumors that Nelson Philippe was negotiating with Forsythe about a possible race seat.  Apparently he is still in the mix for the Forsythe seat as well.  Most likely it will come down to who has the most money.  It is quite possible we will see Doornbos (with Meurmans money) at Forsythe Racing and Philippe and possibly Verstappen (with Trust money) at Minardi.  Philippe drove for Minardi last year when it was the CTE Racing/HVM team and Verstappen has a history with Minardi and Stoddart from F1, so when all the chips fall that appears to be a likely scenario. As Verstappen wrote in his column, if he is to drive in Champ Car this year he wants to be at the Houston test on Monday and Tuesday, which means he must fly from Europe on Sunday morning.....meaning this must get itself sorted out quickly.

02/09/07 (GMM)  Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen has staked his claim on a seat in the American Champ Car series in 2007.

The popular Dutch racer, who contested more than 100 grands prix until the end of 2003, wrote in his column for the Amsterdam-based morning newspaper 'De Telegraaf' that he is in intensive talks with Forsythe.

But Verstappen, 34, admitted that he is presently experiencing "tense days" as he waits for the green light.

He said his management team has collected the necessary money for the pay-drive, but referred to an unnamed "hijacker" who is trying to put together a last minute deal.

"No, I will not name any names," Verstappen wrote, but it is almost certain that he is referring to countryman Robert Doornbos, who recently tested for the team.

Jos makes it clear that he wants the situation cleared up quickly and named the upcoming Champ Car tests as a sort of deadline for the Forsythe team's decision.

"I don't want to put anyone under pressure, but I do not want to start unprepared in what is a completely new series for me.  I simply must test on all four days," Verstappen added.

02/08/07 According to an interview with Holland’s largest newspaper, De Telegraaf, Jos Verstappen says that he's got the money Forsythe is asking for (we assume that means Trust ), but apparently another driver is trying to get the same race seat. He doesn't want to name the driver but we're 99.9% sure it's Robert Doornbos who has tested for both Forsythe and Minardi! Robert might test for Minardi again in Houston, but Forsythe is where he wants to go according to AutoRacing1.com sources.

Verstappen has also told his manager Huub Rothengatter he wants to test the new Champ Car in Houston, preferably with Forsythe Racing, as there are only 4 test days left and he needs all the time available in the car to do well at the first race. He reckons that if he can't test the car in Houston, he won't do Champ Cars this year.
 
To be honest, we don't understand why Stoddart let Robert Doornbos test his car when he knows Robert wants to drive for Forsythe Racing. It sounds like the Champ Car powers to be would like to get both Doornbos and Verstappen with Jos driving for Forsythe and Doornbos for Minardi.
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