Jaguar to 'Talent Test' Klien and Bell

Jaguar will give Austrian youngster Christian Klien and American Townsend Bell a three-day test in Spain this month with a possible Formula One drive at stake.

Jaguar to 'Talent Test' Klien and Bell

Jaguar will give Austrian youngster Christian Klien and American Townsend Bell a three-day test in Spain this month with a possible Formula One drive at stake.

Jaguar spokesman Nav Sidhu said on Friday that the test would be held in Valencia from November 25 to 27. He said the session should not be seen as a shoot-out between Klien, 20, and the 28-year-old Bell but as part of a driver evaluation programme.

"There are opportunities across the spectrum but until we test them it is impossible at this stage to make any type of prediction," he said. "This is going to be a talent test."

Jaguar have yet to announce a partner for Australian Mark Webber for next year and are also looking for a test and reserve driver under new rules allowing them to run three cars in Friday practice at Grand Prix weekends.

Briton Justin Wilson, who competed in the last five races of the season for Jaguar as a replacement for their under-performing Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia, remains in contention for the race seat.

Wilson is under contract to the end of the year but facing stiff competition from experienced drivers like Austrian Alexander Wurz and Germany's Nick Heidfeld.

Red Bull

Sidhu said sponsorship was a consideration but the test would look at speed, adaptability to the team and signs of long-term potential. Klien is backed by Austrian energy drink brand Red Bull, who have been reported as pushing him for the full race drive rather than a testing position.

Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko said last month that any commitment to Jaguar, who will take commercial considerations into account in deciding their second driver, would depend on Klien.

The Austrian was runner-up in German Formula Three this year and won the German Formula Renault title in 2002.

While the Austrian's youth and lack of experience might count against him, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, BAR's Jenson Button and Sauber's Felipe Massa all came into the sport at a similar age.

Bell hopes to become the first US Formula One driver since Michael Andretti left McLaren a decade ago. Wilson, despite lacking the financial clout of some contenders, will continue testing for the team this year.

"This leaves him in the same place that he has been all along," said Sidhu. "He is in contention for the 2004 race seat on level terms with everyone else.

"We're not testing Justin, we know what he can do. This is not a shoot-out between Bell and Klien. Justin fits in, is well liked, has application and focus almost beyond reproach and he's performed very well."

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