JANUARY 5, 2005

Klien and Liuzzi sign for Red Bull Racing

It has been announced in Austria that both Christian Klien and Vitantonio Liuzzi have been signed by Red Bull Racing for the season ahead. It is not clear exactly what the two men have signed and it is not clear how both will be involved in the team given that the David Coulthard is already under contract and Klien cannot be the third driver unless the rules of testing at changed by the F1 team principals. At the moment no driver who has taken part in more than six races in the last two seasons is allowed to be a test driver. The problem for Red Bull is that while Klien qualified well on occasion last season, he rarely did very well in the races and while one can argue that he will get better with more experience, Liuzzi arrived at the team and was immediately quick and is likely to get better. The arrangement is obviously a compromise designed to keep the Austrian media happy but it remains to be seen who will race and we hear that the decision will only be taken once all the pre-season testing has taken place. For Liuzzi to have agreed to such a deal would seem to suggest that there is a longer-term agreement in place as he might easily have found a test role with a team further up the F1 grid. The logical deal would be a guarantee of a drive in 2006.

As far as we can tell the decision as to who will be racing for the team alongside David Coulthard will be taken before the season begins after the team has had a chance to analyse the testing that takes places between now and then.

It is worth noting, incidentally, that there continue to be whispers that there may be a change of management coming up at Red Bull racing although at the moment there is no clear picture of who might be changing roles and who might be coming in. At the same time we are picking up more and more suggestions that Red Bull is shopping around looking for an engine supply deal in 2006. We have heard that the team has been talking to Toyota, Honda and BMW and we have even heard hints that the Austrians are looking at the possibility of funding its own V8 engine programme.

The switch from 3-litre V10s to 2.4-litre V8s in 2006 will provide the opportunity for newcomers start a programme on a par with the big guns of the sport and historically changes of the engine formula have often meant new projects.

Red Bull would obviously like to have the support of a major manufacturer but there are few options with current suppliers, although there is perhaps potential to rebadge engines with secondary brands owned by the existing F1 marques (one might, for example, see the logic of a Lexus-badged Toyota, an Acura-badged Honda, a Dodge-badged Mercedes or a Nissan-badged Renault). That conecpt has already been seen with Ford running the same engine: some badged as Cosworth and some as Ford.