Klien set for first three races

Klien set for first three races
Austrian driver Christian Klien's position at Red Bull looks safe for the first three races of the Formula 1 season, according to his team boss, but nothing is guaranteed.

"It would be surprising if there was to be a change before the end of the first three races but nothing is set in stone," team boss Christian Horner said before the team's debut in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Klien, 22, won a lengthy 'shoot-off' with Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi for the 2005 drive alongside Britain's David Coulthard but could be replaced by last year's Formula 3000 champion as the season unfolds.

"We're not saying it's three, five, seven or 12 races," said Horner. "It will be reviewed on an ongoing basis and we'll see how things pan out."

Klien raced for Jaguar last season before that team was bought from Ford by Austrian energy drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz and renamed Red Bull. He scored three points and finished 16th overall.

The San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, fourth round of the championship and first race of the season in Europe after Australia, Malaysia and Bahrain, is Liuzzi's home race and could bring about a change.

"Obviously, he (Klien) has the race seat at the moment but there is a strong element of competition for that seat obviously with Tonio," Horner said. "There's pressure everywhere in Formula One and he obviously has the benefit of a year's experience and he's doing a good job at the moment.

"Imola is a circuit that Tonio knows well, he won the Formula 3000 race there for my team Arden last year but we'll just have to look very closely at how things develop during the next couple of races."

Liuzzi has also been signed on a long-term contract and will carry out the team's test driving role in Friday practice at grand prix weekends in the meantime.

"We'll be looking at extracting the maximum out of the third car and he's got an important job to do," said Horner. "We'll be getting value for money out of both him and the car."

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Series Formula 1
Author Alan Baldwin
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