It may only be for the annual Bavaria City Racing event on the streets of Rotterdam, and because he is Dutch, but Robert Doornbos' appearance behind the wheel of a Renault F1 car can only heap further pressure on Nelson Piquet Jr.

Doornbos, out of work since Minardi Team USA opted not to join the unified IndyCar Series, has signed up to drive the AC Milan car in the nascent Superleague Formula, but has shown that he would be a useful addition to any F1 team following stints at Jordan, Minardi and Red Bull Racing before heading to the USA.

He has been invited by Renault's Dutch-based sponsor, ING, to demonstrate one of the regie's cars on the streets of his home town during Formula One's summer break, when Bavaria City Racing and the ING RaceSalon again play to the crowds. Doornbos will appear at the ING RaceSalon on Friday and Saturday 15-16 August, and drive during the Bavaria City Racing event on the Sunday.

"It's great that the ING has arranged something like this, it's a first for Dutch F1 history," event organiser Robert Heilbron said, "Every year, Doornbos puts on a great show and he is a hardcore Bavaria City Racing and ING RaceSalon race hero."

Although Doornbos' management has denied that any link can be drawn between his appearance in the cockpit and Nelson Piquet Jr's troubled time so far this season, different conclusions will almost certainly be reached as the pressure grows on the Brazilian rookie to raise his game. Insiders claim that Piquet has until mid-season to improve his performance - especially reducing the number of mistakes he makes - or face being replaced alongside double world champion Fernando Alonso.

GP2 Asia champion Romain Grosjean and former Super Aguri team leader Takuma Sato have both been mentioned as possible alternatives to the Brazilian, but Doornbos may yet prove to be a more suitable choice. Grosjean has only just started testing F1 machinery after graduating from F3 and joining Renault's driver development scheme, and is probably better served concentrating on the regular GP2 Series, where he is struggling to match his Asian success. Sato, meanwhile, may have had his time in F1, with the team formed especially to keep him in the top flight having folded under financial pressures.

Doornbos is reported to have a test in the Renault at Silverstone, ostensibly to get used to the machine before he is let loose on the streets of Rotterdam. His eleven Formula One race appearances failed to yield a single point, but the Dutchman proved more successful in Champ Cars, where he won three times in his debut season to push eventual champion Sebastien Bourdais - ironically, now installed in the second Red Bull F1 team, Toro Rosso - hard for the title until late in the year.

This year's ING RaceSalon promises to be 'even more spectacular' than its first edition in 2007, with more race demonstrations, 'meet and greets' and technical workshops. Doornbos is expected to be joined by other leading names from national and international motorsport to drive a range of machines through the streets.

"What is more beautiful than seeing this talented racer showcasing his skills in Ahoy and on the streets of Rotterdam," ING communications director Monique Opdam said, after confirming that the finance company would extend its backing of the RaceSalon event.

 

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