Exclusive interview - RBR's Christian Klien 09 Mar 2006
When Red Bull Racing unveil their new car and livery at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Bahrain on Thursday evening, Christian Klien will be centre stage. Its a position the Red Bull driver normally shuns, preferring instead to focus on his career. Ahead of the start of the 2006 season - his third in the sport - the Austrian has developed a healthy self-confidence...
Q: No more sharing your race drive as you did in 2005. How does it feel to have the RB2 all to yourself this season? And looking back, did this alternating driver system have any advantages?
Christian Klein: It is fantastic to have a cockpit with RBR - alone. I think the time of the shared race seat was no advantage for me nor for the team, and it was tough for the engineers to adjust to two drivers in terms of continuity. But thats all history now. I am very pleased that as a younger driver I was able to stand up against someone as experienced as Tonio (Liuzzi) who was F3000 Champion in 2004.
Q: Red Bull Racing has hired some of the finest talents in the paddock over the last few months. If you take last years car and compare it with the RB2, where are the biggest differences, and what are the key factors that could make it a podium contender?
CK: If the RB2 is ready for the podium the first races will show it. It clearly is a much stronger package than the RB1 has been. It has more downforce and reacts more sensitively to set-up corrections. I am confident that we will make a step upwards - that we can be counted among the point contenders. If we can achieve the reliability of the top teams we will be able to score points regularly.
Q: There is a slight generation gap between you and your team mate - the twenty-something against the thirty-something. You said that you have learned a lot from David Coulthard. How soon before the pupil outruns the teacher?
CK: I did indeed learn from David. But that was more off then on-track. When it comes to racing and to the car set-up I trust and follow my own ideas. My target for this year is to at least equal DCs result in the championship, if possible to outnumber it.
Q: Having Adrian Newey at the drawing board triggers a lot of high hopes. Is there more pressure to be successful now, and is there some kind of progress chart mapped out for achieving certain levels?
CK: I already had intensive discussions with Adrian. He is a nice and more than clever guy. His experience is unbelievable. His success in F1 is unrivalled. I trust he will bring a great input to our team. Pressure? There is always pressure - we are in Formula One!
Q: As a team philosophy, Adrian Newey said that RBR needs a fast car and not star drivers. Is this perhaps an indication that you will stay with the team beyond your current contract?
CK: I think our masterminds will structure the RBR team in the next years to a winning team. Whether it works out, we will see. But I have trust in their visions. And sure it would be great to rise with the team to the top of the grid.
Q: Many drivers envy you for driving for Red Bull - seen by many as the coolest team in the paddock. What are the major pros for you - aside from the parties and the Formula Unas girls?
CK: This is my tenth year with Red Bull. I always had to fight for my next years race seat, the same as all other Red Bull talents had to do. I managed to be successful in almost all race categories Ive ever entered. Thats why I am here. Red Bull stands for success, so do I.
Q: You did quite well in the last winter tests under difficult conditions. What expectations do you bring to Bahrain and how realistic chance of a podium?
CK: We have first to find out how strong our package is. It would not be realistic at this time to say where we are. If our package delivers we will try to get points at every race. If there is a podium position in between, we will be delighted to bring the trophy to our RBR-guys in the garage and to the factory in Milton Keynes.