History teaches us that there was no Dutch driver in 1999 on the grid. We had Jos Verstappen who was busy with the Honda project. Intentionally, he would become one of their drivers. Sadly, the program was cancelled. Tom Coronel was busy racing in Japan and would only test with the Arrows A20 in December 1999. However, another Dutch driver came “close” to appear on the grid in 1999. His name? Donny Crevels.
Donny Crevels is one of these Dutch drivers that had the raw talent to reach it to the Formula One. He is also one of the examples how hard it is to get sponsors in The Netherlands. Great talent, zero interest from companies. As a result, he disappeared from the autosport as quickly as he appeared in the Minardi.
A drizzling day in November, to be exact the 12th of November 1998. Donny enters the Vallelunga circuit. He takes a coffee, has a little chat with Minardi employees and fits a suit. He is ready to take place in the cockpit of the Minardi M198. A bit clumsy as he is too big for the car. For winning, the Italian F3 championship in 1998 he is rewarded a test with Minardi. A Dutchie with a big career ahead. Crevels is as happy as a child for this chance. A complete new experience. In response, Giancarlo is happy to welcome this young talent in his team.
12 days later Crevels enters the Minardi Factory in Faenza for some seat fitting. Only a day before he was testing the F3000 cars, as there was a big interest from F3000 teams for him. Crevels had his seat fitted the 24th of November while his direct competitor Marc Gené would have his seat fitting a day later. Gené had won the Open Fortuna by Nissan championship in 1998.
It’s the 1st of December 1998 when Laurent Redon does some testing with the Minardi M198 on Catalunya. Mainly concerning the weight distribution in relation to the new tyres. He replaces Esteban Tuero who is recovering from his big shunt. It will be a big day tomorrow for Crevels as Both Giancarlo Minardi and Gabriele Bruni will attend the first appearance of the two young talents.
A day later, it is time for the drivers to take place behind the wheel of the Minardi M198. Marc Gené will start testing in the early morning at 09:00 am until around 11:00. Gené’s response after his test was great. He told that he had a great feeling with the car. He completed 30 laps and his best time was a 1:27.095.
In the afternoon Crevels took place behind the wheel of the Minardi M198. He received a fresh engine and was ready to go completing 32 laps with a best time of 1:29.638. He told the media that he enjoyed the test and was ready for his second test tomorrow morning.
It’s 3 December 1998, the track is wet, and the amount of rain that falls on the track doubles. Most of the teams call it a day, and don’t test. Minardi is not one of these teams. They decided to give their young talents the opportunity to test, even with the rain, even with the risk of a crash. The team believed that a driver should be able to drive with prohibitive weather conditions.
Donny Crevels was the first that left the pits that morning. His first lap went well. His second was less successful. He kissed with his Minardi the concrete wall. The test session was over. Crevels told the media that he was satisfied and could not wait to continue testing with an F1 car. If the opportunity arises. That opportunity never came.
According to Crevels when he appeared at the factory in Faenza to do the seat fitting the team members believed he would be one of the drivers in 1999. Sure, his results prior his test are great. More than good enough to enter the Formula One. So what happened? Money happened, as usual you could say.
Several Dutch sponsors backed Donny Crevels at that time; his biggest sponsor had four directors. Only one of the four was enthusiast for sponsorship in the autosport. As a result the sponsor pulled-back. Even failed to sponsor him later in the touring cars. This is the main reason he was not in the scope to become one of the driver for the Minardi team. There were talks underway for a contract. Rather as a driver or test driver I ‘m not sure. Later on, when Paul Stoddart had purchased the Minardi team in 2001, Crevels name reappeared for in the news. A young Dutch talent would race for the team. Some said that Donny Cravels had better papers than Albers.
Eventually Donny Crevels went back racing in the Netherlands. He drove in several touring car series suchas tehe Dutch Marcos Mantis Championship, Dutch Supercar Challenger. As well, he appeared in several GT series and even in the 24Hours of Lemans. A few years ago, he worked on the market selling stuff. Later on, he worked as cook in the restaurant of his father.
Documentation of his test with Minardi can be found here.