Robert Doornbos is a former racing driver from Netherlands who was active between 1999 and 2011. He recorded eleven starts in Formula One in 2005 and 2006, driving for Minardi and Red Bull Racing.
He also spent two seasons in the American open-wheel competitions, scoring two wins in the 2007 Champ Car World Series, finishing third in the final standings and taking the Rookie of the Year prize.
Robert Michael Doornbos was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands. As a teenager, he was playing tennis until the F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve, which he met at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, suggested him to enter some racing competition.
In 1999, Doornbos competed in the Formula Vauxhall Lotus Winter Series, winning four times and finishing second in the championship.
In 2000, Doornbos competed in different Formula Ford championships. In 2001, he progressed to the British Formula 3, in which he was a race winner two times, finishing fifth in the points.
Next year, he joined Team Ghinzani in the German Formula 3 Championship, but without notable success. He contested in F3 races all over the world, finishing 6th at Macau Grand Prix. In 2003, still with Ghinzani, Doornbos scored three podiums in the Formula 3 Euro Series, finishing ninth in the points.
In 2004, Doornbos made one step closer to Formula One, entering the International Formula 3000 championship. Supported by Red Bull, he joined reigning F3000 champions Arden International.
The team defended championship title and Arden's driver Vitantonio Liuzzi became a champion. Doornbos has won one race (Spa), finishing third in the points and claiming Rookie of the Year title.
While competing in the F3000, Doornbos finally reached Formula One in September 2004. He was hired by Jordan Ford team to be the official Friday test driver at the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit. He was again in the F1 car in test sessions at the Japanese Grand Prix and Brazilian Grand Prix.
His performance was impressive so he was reappointed as the test driver for the 2005 Formula One season. He was driving Jordan EJ15-Toyota in nine Grand Prix events.
In the mid-season, he was hired by Minardi to drive at the German Grand Prix, replacing Patrick Friesacher in the #20 Minardi PS05-Cosworth. In his Formula 1 debut at Hockenheimring, Doornbos finished in 18th place.
Until the end of the season, he recorded seven more Grand Prix starts with Minardi. His best result was 13th place in the Turkish Grand Prix and Belgian Grand Prix.
Minardi F1 team was bought by Red Bull and the team was renamed to Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2006 Formula 1 season. Doornbos was unable to find a full-time seat for 2006, but Christian Horner, who was appointed as Sporting Director of Red Bull Racing, hired him as the team's test and reserve driver.
After spending most of the season as Friday's test driver, Doornbos was promoted to the role of the second driver for the last three events, alongside David Coulthard and as a replacement for Christian Klien. In China and Brazil he finished 12th, in Japan he was 13th.
For the 2007 F1 season, Doornbos has signed again as Red Bull Racing's test driver. He wanted to race, so he joined Minardi Team USA to compete in the Champ Car World Series. After a successful debut, finishing second at the Las Vegas Grand Prix, he reached three more podiums before he scored his first Champ Car victory at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant in Canada.
Until the end of the season, he added one more win to his account, triumphing at San Jose Grand Prix. At the end of the season, he was third overall, behind Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson, winning the Rookie of the Year prize.
Third place in the 2007 Champ Car season was the peak of his career, but Doornbos was also successful in the following season, finishing third in the inaugural season of the Superleague Formula. He was driving the #3 Panoz-Menard for AC Milan/Scuderia Playteam, winning two times (Nurburgring, Jerez).
In 2008, Doornbos also recorded his only sports car racing experience, participating at Daytona 24 Hours. He was driving the #81 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup for Synergy Racing, finishing in 38th place.
Between the season 2008-2009, Doornbos participated in three rounds of the A1 Grand Prix series, driving for Team Netherlands. In 2009, Doornbos returned to the North America, participating full season in the IndyCar Series. He started a season in the #06 Dallara-Honda of the Newman Haas Lanigan Racing. Ninth place was his best result, finishing in that position in four races. At Indianapolis 500, he was 28th.
For the 13th round, Doornbos switched to HVM Racing to drive the #33 car. His best result was 10th place at Sonoma. At the end of the season, he was 16th in the overall standings and second among rookies.
In 2010, Doornbos returned to the Superleague Formula, driving a full season for SC Corinthians/Azerti Motorsport. Scoring no wins, just two podiums, he finished 12th in the points.
In 2011, Doornbos was on the grid of the Superleague Formula but the season ended after just two rounds. In those two rounds, at Assen and Zolder, Doornbos collected enough points to finish second in the final standings as Team Japan's driver.
It was his last competitive season. He retired from racing at the age 30. After a racing career, he was one of the co-founders of Kiiroo, a Dutch company which produces sex toys. Currently, he's an F1 analyst for Ziggo Sport.