Honda F1 website

FEBRUARY 19, 2005

Klien is handed the rope

The Austrian press will no doubt be getting very excited about the announcement that Christian Klien will partner David Coulthard for the Australian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old Austrian had a mediocre season with the Jaguar team (now Red Bull) in 2004 and has been overshadowed over the winter by the team's other signing, Vitantonio Liuzzi, the Formula 3000 champion.

"We are very fortunate to have two exceptionally talented young drivers, who have both impressed the team during pre-season testing," said team principal Christian Horner. "I've been extremely pleased with Christian's and Tonio's development during the past few weeks, as well as by their professionalism and sportsmanship. Christian will undoubtedly benefit from David Coulthard's considerable experience and will hope to build on last year's performances."

The meaning of the remark is fairly clear: Klien needs to do better if he wants to keep the drive.

Our sources say that Klien would not have had the chance were it not for the fact that Red Bull felt pressured by the Austrians to run a local driver and did not want to be seen to be dumping him.

Klien will now have to earn his place. Liuzzi is waiting.