Contrary to expectation, Vitantonio Liuzzi will remain as team-mate to David Coulthard in the Red Bull Racing line-up for this weekend's European Grand Prix.

According to the team's 'three-race plan', Christian Klien was due to return to the cockpit after Liuzzi raced at Imola, Barcelona and Monaco, but the team has decided that the Italian can make better use of his experience at the Nurburgring, before recalling Klien for the flyaway races in Canada and the USA.

"After evaluating both drivers' performance during their three race stints, the team has decided that Tonio will continue as race driver at the next grand prix in Germany," sporting director Christian Horner confirmed, "Christian Klien will then be back in the race car from Montreal, having made a valuable contribution to the team in the last three races as third driver."

The European Grand Prix will therefore be Liuzzi's fourth since graduating as FIA F3000 champion, although recent performances have led pundits to suggest that he has not made the most of the opportunity afforded to him by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. After lucking into a point on debut, following the disqualification of BAR-Hondas, the Italian spun out early in Spain, and appeared to be over-driving the Star Wars-liveried RB1 throughout the Monaco weekend. Although he drove sensibly in the race, a late altercation with the barrier meant that he became the fourth and final retirement.

"I was battling with the rear of the car from the beginning of the race," Liuzzi reported, "Tyre wear meant it was sliding a lot, and it was difficult to keep the car well balanced. I was battling with Juan Pablo, Michael and Ralf but, on lap 61, one of the rear tyres went completely and I had nothing left. After I exited the tunnel, I hit the barrier and that was the end of my event. It's very disappointing."

Klien, by contrast, put memories of his own disappointing debut season behind him to score points in two of the three openings grands prix of the year, all the time knowing that he would have to cede his seat to Liuzzi from Imola. Although he has had to sit out the past three races, the Austrian will hope to at least be challenging for the top eight on his return.

The team has confirmed that he will resume race driver duties from the Canadian Grand Prix onwards, but has not specified how long a tenure he will be offered this time around.

 

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