BMW's Klien hopeful of 2010 race drive 19 Aug 2009
After spending the last three seasons sitting on the substitute bench as a third driver for first Honda and then BMW Sauber, Christian Klien is itching to get back behind the wheel as a race driver. BMWs announcement that they are to withdraw from Formula One racing at the end of the season has brought this even more to the forefront of Kliens mind, and the Austrian is hoping 2010 might see him return to the grid...
Q: Christian, how was the holiday 'imposed' on Formula One racing this summer?
Christian Klien: Quite good, thank you! I went directly from our last straight line test in Vairano to Sardegna. A perfect place to relax. I spent a lot of time on my bicycle every day. At the end of the day you do not want to come back from your vacation with a belly. In F1 being heavy always means being behind.
Q: How has BMW's withdrawal affected your personal situation?
CK: First we were all shocked. I was totally unprepared when Mario Theissen called me. But then again we are all competitive people. Just like a boxer who has suffered a blow you need to get up and get on with it. That's how Formula One works.
Q: How did the crew react to the bad news?
CK: For the people in Hinwil it was a shock. They share a great ´racing spirit´ and they live for their racing team. Right after the news came out I drove to Hinwil. We are all in the same boat. And I am trying to motivate these people to keep going strong. After the holiday my first trip was to the factory at Hinwil again.
Q: Why does BMW not withdraw immediately? What sense is there in continuing to race now?
CK: We still have a few developments in the pipeline. And BMW really want to leave on a high note. And not like this season has gone so far, for the first time after three quite successful years, I may add. The speed of developments is massive this year. Some forget that we were racing for wins at the beginning of the year. It is this turnaround that everybody is now pushing for.
Q: Peter Sauber said that there have been worse problems to solve in his career.
CK: The team has proved more than once what they can achieve with limited resources. The spirit of the people is just great. And the times of unlimited budgets are over anyway. With all this brilliant human capital in Hinwil, I see no reason why they should not be able to build a very competitive race car for 2010.
Q: With Christian Klien as their driver?
CK: At the moment this is pure speculation as the overall situation is still too unclear. What I can contribute at this point is staying super fit to the maximum and be prepared. Just like I trained on my bicycle in the heat every day while I was on holiday. Also, I can collect as much data for the development department when we go straight-line testing. And the endurance car races like in Sebring, Spa or Le Mans help a lot to keep my neck and my reflexes in shape. You can be called upon quite quickly as we see with Ferrari now.
Q: Have you received any requests to drive in 2010 after BMW announced its departure?
CK: There have been requests throughout the season. In F1 everything is always on the move. The new teams are very interested in drivers with experience but a certain long term perspective. At only 26 and with my sixth F1 season now I think I can offer both. But also the established teams are looking around for new drivers at the moment. A few drivers are on the way out or changing teams. Despite those requests that I have received the team from Hinwil would be my first choice. The technical resources are great and the passion for racing fits very well with my idea of an F1 team.
Q: Could the three-car scenario become a reality in 2010?
CK: From a technical and a financial point of view there are only few reasons that speak against it, as we saw a couple of years ago. When all 13 teams are on the grid next year there will be no need for a third car. But when Formula One's stability requires it, it will definitely be an option. Anyway you look at it - with 13 teams of two cars or fewer teams with three cars - there will be more driver seats available next year for sure.
Q: When will we know more?
CK: Concerning the Hinwil team, I hope very soon. But let's not forget what happened to the Ex-Honda team last winter. By February nobody knew if they would make it at all. And then they started by driving circles around everyone else. As for me personally? Like most drivers I am in a waiting position now. As soon as the first pieces of the puzzles fall into the right places, thing may happen quickly. But in 2010 there will be more jobs for F1 drivers than previously, but not any more drivers with Grand Prix experience on the market. I feel I am in quite a good position.