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Imola race chance for Liuzzi 05 Apr 2005

Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Red Bull Racing Third Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 31 March 2005

Red Bull’s Vitantonio Liuzzi will make his Formula One race debut at the San Marino Grand Prix. Christian Klien is to stand down for three races as the team gives Liuzzi his promised race opportunity.

Liuzzi, the reigning Formula 3000 champion, has impressed as the team's Friday test and reserve driver at the first three Grand Prix of the season and the 24-year old Italian will now partner David Coulthard in Imola, Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

"I am very happy to get this chance to race in Formula One, which has always been my target since I started racing,” said Liuzzi. “It is particularly exciting for me to have my first race at my home Grand Prix in Imola. This is a great opportunity for me and of course, I hope to make the best of it. Christian has done a great job in the first three races and it is clear that our car has good potential. It will be great having to get up early on a Saturday and have something to do!"

Red Bull stressed that they have been extremely pleased with Klien’s performance during the first three races, particularly his points-scoring finishes in Australia and Malaysia. The 22-year old Austrian, who is not eligible to run as a third driver, will continue to play an important role within the team during Liuzzi’s three-race trial.

"Coming into this season it was always made clear to me that Tonio would get his opportunity to race,” said Klien. “I feel that I have done a good job in the first three races and I am pleased with my performance, qualifying no lower than seventh in all three races and scoring points in Australia and Malaysia.

“As a racing driver, of course I want to race and I am sure I will find it very difficult to watch from the pits. But I have always understood the reasons behind this strategy and I am comfortable with it. I wish Tonio the very best of luck and will do all I can to help him and the team."

Commenting on the team’s decision, Red Bull’s sporting director Christian Horner added: "We are very fortunate to have two extremely talented young Red Bull Junior drivers contracted to the team. However, 2005 is a building year for Red Bull Racing and the only way to see a driver's true potential is over the course of a full race weekend.

“Christian has performed faultlessly for the team during the first three events, culminating in two point scoring races. This decision is in no way a reflection on his ability, but simply an opportunity for the team to evaluate his counterpart and allow him to gain experience. During the next three races we will get a clear indication of Tonio's potential at three circuits where he won in F3000 last year."

An announcement regarding who will fill the role of Friday test driver at the San Marino Grand Prix will be made by Red Bull in due course. The Imola meeting takes place on April 22-24.