DECEMBER 17, 2004
A one year deal for Coulthard
As we predicted 10 days ago, David Coulthard has been signed by Red Bull Racing for the 2005 season. The team has not named a second driver but it is expected that the Austrian-owned team will eventually nominate Austrian driver Christian Klien who did not have a particularly enthralling first year in 2004 but who seems to have been save because he is an Austrian and Red Bull is fearful of dumping the local hero in favour of Vitantonio Liuzzi, an Italian. Liuzzi has performed much better than Klien in recent testing despite his lack of F1 experience but it seems that Red Bull is going to try to put him in as a test driver rather than doing the logical thing and giving the FIA International Formula 3000 Champion his chance in F1. There are no guarantees that Liuzzi would accept the role as test driver for the team and may be trying to get a deal with Jordan, although the news that Arden International is no longer interested in buying Jordan is another blow to Liuzzi's ambitions. Jordan is understood to be looking for money and Liuzzi may decided that if he has to be a test driver, it is best to be with a top team although the Italian is hoping to get a guarantee of a race drive from a team which wants him a tester in 2005. This is entirely reasonable given that Liuzzi has already shown that he can be competitive in F1 in tests with Sauber and Red Bull Racing.
We hear that inside Red Bull Racing they are keen to run Liuzzi in 2005 but may end up with Klien simply because of circumstances. With the rules as they are, Klien cannot be a test driver in 2005 because he did too many races in 2004 and thus he cannot be included in the team as the third driver. This absurd situation has led to all manner of rumours about the team starting the year with Klien and then switching to Liuzzi but none of these ideas are very intelligent or straightforward. The option is to drop Klien and face the wrath of the Austrian press. If nothing else this would prove that Red Bull wants to be taken seriously as a racing team rather than being a rather parochially-minded sponsor. The team is also expected to name American Scott Speed as a test driver although the European Formula Renault Champion is expected to pop up in GP2 this season. It is worth noting, incidentally, that Red Bull has recently signed up Switzerland's Neel Jani as one of its driver line-up in 2005.
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