MARCH 30, 2005
Mateschitz stirs it up a little
Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz has too many drivers for his Formula 1 team this year and rather than sending them to play tennis with Juan Pablo Montoya, the Austrian magnate is saying that he would happily lend either Christian Klien or Vitantonio Liuzzi to another team, in order to get the youngsters more F1 experience. If one reads between the lines of the remarks there are a number of other implications. Christian Klien cannot switch from being a race driver to being the team's test driver because he has done too many races in the last two seasons and so the team would have to run a new third driver, which would logically be American Scott Speed, who tested so well for the team last week in Barcelona. Red Bull wants to sell more in the United States and so being fronted by an America is obviously a good idea. It is also a good idea for Red Bull Racing to measure Liuzzi against David Coulthard to find out how he compares with David Coulthard to see who are the best choices for the team in 2006.
The possibility is being discussed because of the poor performance of Jacques Villeneuve this year at Sauber and the fact that the Swiss team was very keen to sign Liuzzi last autumn before Peter Sauber inked his deal with Villeneuve, which some believe was an attempt by Sauber to keep the Red Bull money. As it turned out Red Bull decided to buy Jaguar Racing instead of sponsoring Sauber again and took Liuzzi along as third driver, although it has been clear since the start of the year that Klien's tenure of the drive is under constant review. The Austrian has done well but there are many who wonder what Liuzzi would have done in his place.
Having a vacancy at Sauber could be of great help to Mateschitz as he could either train up Liuzzi for a year or offload Klien to the Swiss team. Sauber says that he has no plans to replace Villeneuve at the moment, the possibility of another driver (perhaps free of charge) might be very attractive. If nothing else the knowledge may help to destabilise Villeneuve, which would be useful for Red Bull Racing as Sauber is one of its rivals in the ranks of the Constructors' Championship.
It is pure speculation to suggest that Villeneuve might depart Sauber after the Canadian GP and thus open the way for Klien at Sauber. That in turn would open the way for Liuzzi at Red Bull while also opening the way for Speed to make his first F1 appearance in front of his home crowd at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, which would no doubt help the race make more of an impact in the United States, which would please Red Bull and F1 in general.
It might be speculation but it would be terribly convenient for all concerned.
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