Robert Doornbos


Record updated 23-Sep-21

Dutch F1 driver.

Robert Doornbos
Dutch Formula One driver for the Minardi team. Born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Doornbos' first sport was tennis, and was competing at semi-professional national level in the Netherlands. His interest in motorsport grew after he was invited to the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix as a guest of WilliamsF1. He gave up tennis and focused on racing, joining the JR racing team for the 1999 Opel Lotus UK Winter series. He had a successful season, finishing second in the championship after taking 4 pole positions, 4 fastest laps and 4 wins.

In 2000 he competed in the Formula Ford Zetec Benelux series, finishing 2nd in the Belgian championship and 5th overall with 1 pole, 3 fastest laps and 6 podiums.

Returning to the UK in 2001, Doornbos contested the Scholarship class of the British Formula 3 championship with FGR Racing. He finished the year 5th in the championship, taking 2 poles, 2 wins and 9 podiums. He drew attention with a 2nd place finish in the F3 support race for the British Grand Prix. Doornbos moved to the German Formula 3 championship with Team Ghinzani. He picked up 4 podiums without a win, also finishing 6th in the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.

Continuing with the team in 2003, Doornbos competed in the European Formula 3 Championship, visiting the podium 7 times. He took pole position at Spa-Francorchamps for the F3 Masters event, and finished 2nd in the Korean Grand Prix.

With support from Red Bull, Doornbos joined reigning Formula 3000 champions Arden Motorsport for the 2004 FIA International F3000 Championship. Partnered with Vitantonio Liuzzi, Doornbos claimed Rookie of the Year after finishing 3rd in the championship. During the year, he took 1 fastest lap and 4 podium finishes, including a race win at Spa-Francorchamps. Prior to the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix, it was announced that Doornbos would be the official Friday test driver for the Jordan F1 team, replacing Timo Glock, who had been promoted to race duties in place of Giorgio Pantano, whose sponsorship money had "dried up". Doornbos impressed as test driver for the final few races of the season, and was reappointed with the newly-sold Jordan team for the 2005 season.

Doornbos completed Friday testing duties for Jordan for all but two of the first 11 races of the year, with French Renault F1 test driver Franck Montagny testing at the European Grand Prix, and Jordan being banned from using a third car at the Canadian Grand Prix after using too many tyres at the previous race. On July 19, Doornbos was appointed as a race driver for Minardi for the 2005 German Grand Prix and onwards, replacing Austrian Patrick Friesacher, who had encountered sponsorship issues. Doornbos and teammate Christijan Albers became the first all-Dutch team line-up since Carel Godin de Beaufort and Ben Pon drove together for the Ecurie Maarsbergen team at the 1962 Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

The Minardi team ceased to exist in its previous form at the end of 2005, being bought out by Red Bull and becoming their Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Doornbos was unable to find a race drive for 2006, however Christian Horner, his boss in F3000 and Red Bull team boss, signed him to be the team's test and reserve driver. For 2006 he will test at the racetracks on Fridays, and will step into a race drive if either David Coulthard or Christian Klien are unable to race.

Doornbos will race the final three GPs of 2006 after Chrstian Klien left the team.