Klien Could Still Lose Red Bull Seat

Christian Klien has been told that there are no guarantees that he will keep hold of his race seat at Red Bull Racing beyond the next round of the Championship in Bahrain, despite another strong points-scoring finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix

Klien Could Still Lose Red Bull Seat

The Austrian has played his part in helping Red Bull grab a surprise third place overall in the Constructors' Championship after more that justifying Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz's faith in him following a far from convincing debut season with Jaguar last year.

But despite the form, which has seen him take a seventh and eighth place finish in the first two Grands Prix of the year, Red Bull's motor sport advisor Helmut Marko is still adamant that there is a chance he could be dropped in favour of test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi for the San Marino Grand Prix next month.

Speaking on Austrian television programme Sport Am Sonntag, Marko said: "It was decided that Klien will drive the first three races. Afterwards, a comprehensive evaluation will take place - and that is quite a complex affair.

"It will involve the evaluation of the long runs as well as qualifying. This evaluation is a laborious affair."

Despite the fact that Klien outqualified team leader Coulthard in Malaysia, and has done everything expected of him so far, Marko admits that there is a concern within the team that they cannot completely ignore the fact that Liuzzi may be able to match the Austrian's achievements.

"We have an annual contract with David Coulthard and an agreement of several years with the two other pilots (Klien and Liuzzi). We do not want to lose Liuzzi, who is also a fast man and drove for example the best time on the Friday in Melbourne.

"I don't want to diminish the achievements of Klien by making an exchange, but it concerns me that we also want to give Liuzzi a chance."

He added: "Liuzzi is a charismatic and fast pilot, who triumphed in Formula 3000 like Michael Schumacher in F1. We do not simply know which of the both is more suitable."

Klien himself, however, clearly feels that he has already done enough to claim that he deserves to stay on board for more of the season.

"I was faster than Coulthard in qualifying and made no errors," he said. "I do not see the point on why one should change the driver."

Any decision to see Klien dropped in favour of Liuzzi will require Red Bull to find a replacement third driver for the Friday of Grands Prix, because Klien has competed in too many races to be eligible for the role.

It is possible that the team may choose to put GP2 drivers Scott Speed or Neel Jani into that position - and coincidentally the duo are due to test for the team at Barcelona in Spain this week.

The team's hopes of building on their strong start to the campaign should be boosted by the time of the Canadian Grand Prix in June when the outfit's engine supplier Cosworth is hoping to introduce a latest specification engine - with around 30bhp more than the team currently has available.

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