Former Grand Prix driver Christian Klien – a driver who would rank among the favourites of many female fans the world over – is turning 29 years old today!
Born in the Austrian border town of Honehems, Christian started out in karts in his early teens, quickly achieving success in the Austrian and Swiss championships.
He moved into the Formula BMW Junior ADAC Cup at the age of sixteen and finish overall in the championship standings. In 2000, he graduated to the main championship with Team Rosberg, and he peaked with five wins in 2001 en route to third overall in the standings.
By now, Red Bull was taking serious notice of Christian, and the drinks giant helped sponsor his move into the German Formula Renault championship – he won the title – while he also dovetailed this with the European championship.
He moved into the Formula 3 EuroSeries in 2003, winning four races and finishing runner-up to Ryan Briscoe. He also won the Marlboro Masters crown at Zandvoort.
With Red Bull steadily increasing its involvement in Formula 1 – now helping sponsor the Jaguar team – Christian was a surprise choice as the team-mate to Mark Webber for the 2004 season. His debut season wasn’t particularly impressive, but he remained with the team for another season, which had now been completely taken over and renamed by Red Bull.
He was set to share his seat with Vitantonio Liuzzi that year, but the Austrians decided that this made little sense, and so Christian drove most of the races, his performances steadily improving as the year wore on.
But the 2006 season saw him outperformed rather too frequently by veteran team-mate David Coulthard, and the team decided that the year would be his last with the team. Once Christian got word of the team’s decision at the Italian Grand Prix, he elected to quit the team immediately and worked on securing himself a berth as Honda’s test driver.
The following years were spent treading water as the reserve driver for Honda, and then BMW Sauber, while he also dipped his toe in the endurance racing scene with Peugeot’s works outfit in the Le Mans Series.
His F1 comeback came in 2010 with Hispania Racing, initially as its test driver. He made a few outings for the team in the latter half of the season – immediately outpacing Bruno Senna – but he was unable to raise enough funds to stay on board for the following year.
On the eve of his signing for Hispania Racing, Christian gave RichardsF1.com an exclusive interview, which you can read by clicking the banner below:
Read our exclusive interview with Christian Klien! Click on the banner above