Jaguar boss Tony Purnell has predicted that new boy Christian Klien will 'surprise' people in 2004, despite the fact that some have already written off the Austrian, claiming he only got the seat due to funds he will bring from Red Bull.

Klien was signed to replace Justin Wilson at the beginning of December.

Despite the fact he impressed in 2003, finishing second in the F3 Euro Series behind Toyota tester, Ryan Briscoe, Klien faces a steep learning curve though if he is to adapt and thrive in F1.

Speaking to British newspaper The Independent, Purnell revealed that Klien has great potential, and whatever happens next season, he will 'stand by' his decision to employ the youngster.

"I rate Christian and I think he's going to surprise people," he told the British broadsheet. "He is very mature, and you have to remind yourself that he is only 20.

"When he first tested for us at Valencia, I went out to watch him on the track. People don't do that very much these days.

"There's a point where you can see most of the track, and I was quite surprised. He seemed to be driving very calmly and leaving lots of room on the exit to each corner.

"Frankly, he looked pretty slow and I was beginning to wonder, but then I saw the lap times he was doing, and I was very surprised. They were genuinely quick."

Klien will make his F1 debut at the Australian GP in Melbourne in March, until then he will be testing alongside team-mate Mark Webber.

 

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