11 January 2012
d’Ambrosio, van der Garde still chasing F1 race seats
Ironically, Mignot's final comment would tend to suggest that d'Ambrosio is chasing the vacant seat at Williams, rather than HRT, which many outsiders believe that he is more likely to get. Sutil is known to have visited Williams' Grove facility before Christmas, and is listed in a group of hopefuls that also includes veteran Rubens Barrichello, former Lotus Renault pilots Bruno Senna and Vitaly Petrov and van der Garde, who shares common sponsorship ground with fashion brand McGregor.
Like d'Ambrosio, the Dutchman is preferring to keep a low profile while negotiations take place, but remains optimistic that a lengthy bid to break into the top flight will be resolved before too long.
“We are a little quiet, but we're working hard,” manager Jan-Paul ten Hoopen - who is also McGregor's commercial director - told f1today.nl, "We will let you know when there is any news."
While GP2 frontrunner van der Garde can also lean on billionaire father-in-law Marcel Boekhoorn, 2011 HRT incumbent Vitantonio Liuzzi can only wish for access to similar amounts of money.
Despite expressing a wish to remain with the Spanish minnow - and having a two-year deal, albeit one signed with the previous ownership - the Italian appears to be on the verge of losing his seat to a better-funded rival, with d'Ambrosio, Petrov and Senna rumoured to be chasing the seat alongside veteran returnee Pedro de la Rosa.
According to Belgium's La Libre newspaper, which quotes HRT technical director Jacky Eeckelaert, Liuzzi has not seized the chance to cement his place on the grid for 2012, despite occasionally helping HRT punch above its weight last season.
“He hasn't really confirmed himself after several chances, [and] we are looking more for a young driver with a lot of potential,” Eeckalaert explained, before going on to rule out the likes of Barrichello and a host of Spanish talent, including Jaime Alguersuari and Dani Clos, currently being linked to the soon-to-be Valencia-based squad.
“I don't think it's in the interests of the team to have a second Spanish driver,” he said, "and the same goes for the drivers approaching retirement.”
While his Russian backers may be of interest to HRT - despite its desire to be seen as having a greater Spanish aura this season - Petrov continues to be mentioned in connection with two seats that currently appear to be occupied.
The former Lotus Renault pilot has been linked to both Jarno Trulli's Caterham ride and the lead Marussia entry of Glock, despite both having apparently inked extensions to their contracts last summer.
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