Zurich Gnome

The journal of a Swiss-based motor-racing enthusiast.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Better late than never

F1 news is thin on the ground at the moment, but there's always something in the air. A Belgian driver, Jeffrey van Hooydonk, will apparently test for MF1 in December. MF1 is the name by which Midland wish to be known, now they've completely taken over from Jordan. And to complete the MF1 news, they've announced a striking red, black and white colour scheme to replace the Jordan yellow. I say striking, but frankly it means they're going to look a bit Minardi-ish, which is quite appropriate as MF1 will almost certainly be at the back of the grid for most races next year. I think it's reasonable to assume that Squadra Toro Rosso (née Minardi) will take a significant step forwards after an injection of Red Bull dollars, which will just leave the two MF1 drivers to race against themselves.

But back to van Hooydonk. He's certainly one of those drivers that's been a long time coming. He's 27 now, which is considerably older than our new World Champion Fernado Alonso, and consequently he'll struggle to get a proper drive. He'll need lots of cash to get in at MF1 (around $10 million) and then he'll need to destroy his team-mate to make anyone sit up and take notice. I first saw JvH race at Donington in September 1997. Our Eiger Racing team were making our debut (and as it turned out only) appearance in the Formula Renault Eurocup, so we were more concerned with our own problems. van Hooydonk simply walked that race and left the impression that he was a major talent with a big future. But so often that happens and it turns out that at the F1 level a major talent turns out to be not so major after all.

Antonio Pizzonia for example never really delivered on his promise, and Aluizio Coelho was another. You've probably never heard of Coelho, but in 1998 people in the know were prepared to bet money on him being F1 Champion within 10 years. Instead he went on to F3, was paired with a young Jenson Button who was fresh from Formula Ford and simply failed to deliver the goods.

So what does the F1 world have in store for Jeffrey? Well frankly, not much. I might be cynical, but I assume that he's had to put a large number of notes on the table to get this test. MF1 need money, and renting test drives to individuals with wealthy backers is a useful source of income. It may seem harsh to say that this is not much more than a glorified "Red Letter" day out at Brands Hatch, but sadly, that's just what it is. At least make sure you enjoy the day, Jeffrey.


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