Baumgartner ready to sign for Minardi Baumgartner ready to sign for Minardi

Zsolt Baumgartner looks set to take up Minardi's offer of a race seat for 2004 and an official announcement will reportedly be made tomorrow (23rd December). Minardi already signed Gianmaria Bruni and offered the second seat to Hungarian Baumgartner last week. The Hungarian government pledged to help Baumgartner raise the money required by Minardi.

Zsolt Baumgartner.
Photo by Jordan Grand Prix.
"The Hungarian government is ready to sponsor Zsolt Baumgartner's participation in next year's Formula One season," sports minister Ferenc Gyurcsany told a press conference on Monday. The amount is thought to be in the region of ?2.5 million.

Baumgartner's manager, Tamas Frank, said the contract will be signed tomorrow. Presuming it all goes ahead, former Minardi driver Justin Wilson looks to be out of luck for an F1 seat. Minardi boss Paul Stoddart previously said he would like to have Wilson return to the team but the financial situation made it unlikely.

Jordan remains the only team not to have decided a driver line up for 2004 but Jos Verstappen is hoping to close a deal soon. Verstappen, who raced for Minardi in 2003, has enough personal sponsorship to give him an advantage, while the other Jordan seat could go to Nick Heidfeld or Allan McNish. 2003 Jordan driver Ralph Firman is also hoping but he too faces financial stumbling blocks.