SEPTEMBER 10, 2006
Klien out at Red Bull Racing
As darkness was falling at Monza on Sunday evening the word in the pitlane was that we will not be seeing Christian Klien again in a Red Bull-Ferrari. We hear that the Austrian youngster told his mechanics that he would not be back in China and that opens up some interesting possibilities for the team. The obvious thing to do would be to promote Tonio Liuzzi from Toro Rosso. He has tested for the team several times this year and factions within Red Bull Racing are keen on the idea. The problem with that is that Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger is not going to be keen to lose the Italian as he wants him next year in a Toro Rosso-Renault. Scott Speed might be an idea but then he has not tested the Red Bull and that means that the drive will probably end up with Robert Doornbos getting the ride as he has tested the car on a regular basis this year. That would open up the job of Friday test driver and Red Bull has a number of possibilities for that as well. Red Bull has a string of drivers under contract and could call in any one of them. It might even be able to call in Sebastian Vettel from BMW as he has contracts with both BMW and Red Bull and it is not entirely clear who gets precedence. Vettel has made a good impression with BMW and Red Bull might want to grab him. The team might decide to switch Neel Jani across from Toro Rosso as the Swiss has done a very capable job this year and has F1 experience. Outside F1 the options are rather more limited. Michael Ammermueller is a Red Bull driver but he has been rather disappointing this year in GP2 and the Red Bull folk seem to be a bit more excited about a youngster called Adrian Zaugg, a black South African who races with a Swiss licence. He has been very impressive this year in the Renault World Series. At the moment there does not seem to be a definitive answer as to what will happen but it seems clear that Klien has decided that enough is enough and that he does not want to race for Red Bull in the United States and has been actively looking for a drive in F1 next year, either racing for a smaller team or testing for a big operation. Klien had the opportunity of a Red Bull-funded drive with Kevin Kalkhoven's PKV Racing in Champ Car next year but seems to have concluded that this would be a ticket to nowhere.
It also not clear why Red Bull and Klien have fallen out at this stage but it makes sense for the team to move him aside if it wants to try out others in preparation for the 2007 season.
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