Frijns denies turning down Red Bull chance

2015 F1 season

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Former Formula One test driver Robin Frijns says he never turned down the opportunity to join Red Bull’s young driver programme.

Frijns, who tested Red Bull’s F1 car in 2012, denied making critical comments about the team’s young driver programme at the time. De Telegraaf quoted him as saying “they treat you like dogs” when asked about the Red Bull Junior Team.

Frijns denied saying Red Bull treats drivers “like dogs”
In an interview for the Formula E website, Frijns said “never in my entire life did I use those words”.

“The guy who put that on a newspaper with the big title ‘treated like dogs’ or whatever it was, that guy was never in racing before, because I checked it later on, and for some reason he just wanted to… I mean, I never had that word in my mouth, like ‘Red Bull treat you like dogs’ because I didn’t know.”

“So that was a real big mess and I was really angry at that person and he never ever called me again. And I still remember his name, I’m really terrible with names but I still remember his name. So that was a big mess, for me I was not treated well, it was a big lie, but sometimes that’s how the Formula One world goes.”

Frijns said he was unsure if the article affected his career. “You never know if it was another way, or if it didn’t happen. But long story short, it happened, life goes on, but the worst thing that frustrated me was that I didn’t say it. But everybody believes it because it was in a newspaper. Still, after four years people ask me did you actually say that? And every time I say no, I never said it.”

Frijns, who now races in Formula E, was tipped to land a seat in F1 after winning the Formula Renault 3.5 and Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup championships in back-to-back seasons. He went on to test for Sauber and Caterham. “Man he was quick,” former Sauber engineer Marco Schuepbach recalled on Twitter recently, pointing to Frijns’ lack of funding as the reason why he didn’t get any further.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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15 comments on “Frijns denies turning down Red Bull chance”

  1. Best driver out there (with Vandoorne and Ocon) not to be driving F1. What a massive shame.

  2. Would be so cool if somehow Red Bull would take him in, and get his career back on track. A season in GP2 and then join Toro Rosso in 2017 when potentially at least one of their drivers moves on.

  3. The Telegraaf article never made any sense. Two paragraphs of Frijns bashing Red Bull followed by a third one “However, the 21 year old talent will drive the RB6 at the Abu Dhabi circuit” …

    Serously? People believe this thing?

    Anyway, I really hope he gets a shot at F1: he deserves it.

    1. The test run was a prize for his win in FR3.5, as RBR being the effective factory team. I wonder why he didn’t clear the air right away. He could’ve denied it easily on his Twitter for example.

      1. He did try, at least in the dutch media, but the damage was done. These days you can’t get the ghost back in the bottle. Everything goes viral.

    2. Getting a ‘yes’ on a long quote like ‘so you could argue – to say it very rude – they treat you like a dog… I mean they change drivers like some people get a new puppy when the other is no puppy anymore.’


      Journo’s job done.

  4. That one interview badly damaged his reputation with most F1 teams as it came it smack in the middle of the young driver test of 2012, when he was lined up to test with Sauber and Red Bull.

    Call me cynical, but I find it weird it took him three years to counter those words. If the journalist completely made up those words, then why wait such a long time to deny them. He should have done so immediately after it came out.

    1. Call me cynical, but I find it weird it took him three years to counter those words.

      Actually I seem to remember him doing exactly that not long after the interview. But the damage was done.

  5. maarten.f1 (@)
    15th December 2015, 4:25

    Frijns messed up. He might’ve not said it exactly that way, or it was taken out of context (as he claimed shortly after the interview), I believe he did say that. If he hadn’t, he could’ve easily sued for libel.

    But that’s not the only thing he messed up, even as a Sauber driver he basically snubbed driving in GP2. Saying he wasn’t going to do it if it wasn’t for a full season; they didn’t appreciate that much at Sauber.

    Perhaps he didn’t like being pushed around, like driving for the Red Bull junior program, or being “forced” to drive in GP2, but as a starting driver in Formula 1 you need to make some leeway.

    1. Hm, @Maarten-1f, but suing the biggest Dutch newspaper costs a lot of money. And I am pretty sure that any money he did have available would have been used to further his career rather than paying a lawyer to sue. And then all the time and engergy that is involved …

      As for the GP2 thing, he just did not have the money to do a GP2 season. The series is hugely expensive, only F1 tops it. An Indy Car drive comes cheaper! If you look at that “Motorsport” article, you see that it is strung together from a few sideways quotes, including the Telegraaf interview. And it has no author listed.

  6. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    15th December 2015, 8:10

    He did mess up, he did say things that were a touch hot-headed and he did present himself as rather arrogant – but, it would be nice to think the teams weren’t so precious because, good grief is Robin an awesome talent. I suppose his biggest problem is that F1 hasn’t exactly been struggling to find excellent, measured young drivers in recent years, with Verstappen, Sainz, Kvyat, Magnussen and Bottas.

    Frijns could have been the equal of any of them. Happily, for once F1 doesn’t have to blame itself for missing a young star. Tom Kristensen may at last have a rival for the title of “Best Driver to Miss the F1 Boat”.

    1. In the junior-series, Frijns beat Sainz, Vandoorne, Kvyat, Bianchi and Bird (although not always equally experienced). Not many drivers can say that!

  7. While I still think it’s a sin he never got a seat in F1 (especially with the team formerly known for their keen eye for talent, Sauber), one thing that I’ve taken from his interviews is a very passive tone. Around 2013 he was quoted as saying ‘I’m only in FR 3.5 because of the championship money from 2.0’, ‘we’re waiting for the sponsors to call’, now we have ‘the teams never called’. Of course I can imagine that companies and teams get a lot of calls and mails from people claiming to be the next Senna, only if they fund them, but I find it odd that it took him so long to find another seat in another open wheeled class. I don’t recall his exact management situation, but I think he dropped his manager in 2013 but I don’t think I’ve heard much from the replacement either.

    Perhaps more so than not being part of a driver programme (just ask Da Costa) his problem might be that he hasn’t been able to surround himself with people who can get things done for him in general. It’s a damn shame, but it’s also crazy talk that a driver of his calibre can’t get any sponsors.

    1. Well @npf1at least from what I understand is that it’s difficult for Dutch drivers to acquire sponsorship. Not sure if it’s the economy there or just a view that drivers are rich or something. It’s such a shame for us fans though. But at least we get to see him in formulae. A form on consolation for me..
      Hopefully were through the worst of it in terms of woefully bad pay drivers accessing the grid. With the points system that Frijns himself supports at least I’m hopeful we won’t see ridiculous driver pics purely for cash.

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