Klien key to Red Bull Jag deal

Rising Austrian single-seater star Christian Klien could drive for Jaguar Racing in 2004 - if the Milton Keynes-based team wants to land the sought-after Red Bull sponsorship deal

Klien key to Red Bull Jag deal

Klien, 20, won this year's Marlboro Masters of Formula 3 at Zandvoort and finished runner-up to Toyota's F1 protégé Ryan Briscoe in the F3 Euroseries. According to AUTOSPORT sources, Red Bull is determined to place its young star into F1 as soon as possible, although it is understood that Jaguar would prefer to give him a testing role in 2004.

If that happened, it would leave the way clear for McLaren test driver Alexander Wurz to join the Big Cat alongside Mark Webber, with Klien driving on Fridays at grand prix weekends. It would then have the option to promote him to its race team in 2005.

When asked if Red Bull would commit to Jaguar, the energy drink's motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, a former grand prix driver himself, said: "It all depends. It will not be as title sponsor. It is down to the driver - Klien."

If this deal doesn't come off, Klien could find himself placed with either Jordan or Minardi.

"The second seat is a valuable asset we have and I want to make sure whoever fills it will be best for the team," said Jaguar's David Pitchforth on the subject. "He has to be a good driver first, fit with the team, fit with Mark and the engineers, understand the way we work and then other factors come into play too. We are not in a screaming rush but we are working very hard on it."

Wurz, meanwhile, recently claimed: "Jaguar has me at the top of their list and McLaren wants to keep me as their test driver."

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