Hispania Racing has underlined its determination to move up the Formula One grid by adding the experienced Christian Klien to its roster of test and reserve drivers alongside the recently-confirmed Sakon Yamamoto.
The Austrian has been looking for a way back into the top flight since being dropped by Red Bull Racing in 2006, and was listed among the potential candidates for the HRT role from the moment that Colin Kolles announced that the Spanish outfit would be looking for experience to back up rookie race pairing Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok. Yamamoto's appointment, however, appeared to have closed the door on Klien, who had decided to forego a place in Peugeot's Le Mans squad to pursue a return to F1 this season.
“We are very proud to welcome Christian to HRT F1," team principal Kolles said, "He is a young and fast driver, and I have been keeping a close eye on him since his first races in the ADAC series as I believe he has great potential. We look forward to having Christian alongside us in Barcelona later this week so he can spend some valuable familiarisation time with the team. As a young team, we are looking for drivers who can grow with us.”
Klien, who finished third in last year's Le Mans 24 Hours with Peugeot, has shown his testing ability with Honda in 2007 and BMW Sauber in both 2008 and '09. He has also run with both Spyker and Force India while the squad was under Kolles control, but has raced only sporadically - and not in F1 - during that time. He graduated to F1 with Jaguar Racing direct from the F3 Euroseries in 2004, before remaining on board during the team's transformation into Red Bull Racing.
The 27-year old will be part of the HRT team's race weekend preparations in Barcelona, and could drive on Friday morning as F1 returns to Europe for the first time in 2010. He remains a reserve for Peugeot's Le Mans programme.
“I am thrilled to be joining the HRT F1 team," the Austrian commented, "This role offers me the opportunity to rejoin the F1 environment and drive again, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie. I was in Bahrain and China and have had a close look at the car already. I have also met the team members and know quite a number of them from my previous race seasons.
"I would like to thank Dr Colin Kolles for the interest he has shown in me at this stage. It is exciting and very motivating to be part of a new team structure in such a challenging sport. At only 27 years, with six seasons of F1 under my belt, I am sure I can bring a lot of experience and enthusiasm into HRT F1 Team.”
Klien's appointment coincides with the start of a new management deal with Roman Rummenigge's Rummenigge Sport Marketing company, which the Austrian believed would help him land a deal after being overlooked by several teams in recent seasons.
"Last year, it became obvious that talent and speed are no guarantee for a permanent race seat in the current economic climate," he pointed out, "On two occasions, I missed out on a contract at the last minute because other drivers had a more attractive sponsor package to offer."
As well as being mentioned in connection with the HRT reserve role, Klien appears among the dozen drivers listed by Stefan GP as those to have talked with the Serbian team for 2010, and had also been linked to a possible return to the BMW Sauber team that had utilised his testing abilities in the past.