|The Three Amigos: Vitantonio Liuzzi, Giorgio Mondini and Christian Klien|
Christian Klien remains bullish about his chances of securing the only vacant race seat left on the 2011 grid, despite Hispania Racing recently giving test opportunities to both Vitantonio Liuzzi and Giorgio Mondini.
In an interview published on his personal website, Klien says: “My manager Roman Rummenigge is in permanent contact with [HRT’s] management. to say I would love to drive for HRT.”
While Liuzzi and Mondini are perhaps the short-price favourites to assume the second race seat, Klien believes that his past experience with the Colin Kolles-run squad – amounting to three Grand Prix races last year – will prove more valuable to the outfit, which will launch its new F111 challenger at this week’s final pre-season test session in Spain.
And the Austrian believes that the team is well-placed to make the most of its limited resources, where it should benefit from the experience he has in driving the team’s 2010 model, the F110, on which the new car is largely based.
“I am convinced the team will make good progress and surprise a few people,” he said. “In Geoff Willis and chief designer Paul White they have engineers who know very well how to build competitive racing cars. I would love to develop it further. And they are masters of efficiency like no other team on the grid.”
Equally, Klien doesn’t believe that the team’s decision to launch its car so late in the pre-season won’t disadvantage it in its quest to get off the back of the grid in its second season.
“If you look back how this team rose from the ashes of another operation at the beginning of 2010, you will have no doubt HRT will make the most of its limited resources in 2011. They have a solid and analytical way of facing challenges.”
In many ways, Klien acknowledged, there is an element of history repeating itself if it is to be believed that he is in the running for the seat against Liuzzi.
The pair was part of Red Bull’s ‘driver rotation’ policy in 2005, where they shared the second race seat on a rotational basis. Ultimately, the team stuck with Klien for most of the season, while Liuzzi was kept waiting in the wings.
“[It’s] funny, isn’t it?” he said. “At Red Bull we were both members of the groundbreaking ‘seat sharing’ model.”
But irrespective of who is ultimately successful, Klien was firm in that it would not detract from their close friendship.
“Tonio and I have remained good friends over the years. As usual we phoned after his HRT test. Last summer I was given an extra ticket for the football Champions League final in Madrid. Of course I invited Tonio to come with me, which he did happily.
“No matter who gets the drive, it will not change our good and respectful relationship.”
And failing his being able to secure the HRT race seat, the Austrian will concentrate on finding a ‘third driver’ seat with another F1 team.
“If neither works out you will certainly find me racing elsewhere,” he concluded.