by Russell Atkins

Christian Klien looks set for a return to full-time Formula 1 action as he is hotly-tipped to step into the under-fire Christijan Albers' seat at Spyker - possibly as early as the European Grand Prix in two weeks' time.

The Austrian - currently Honda's test driver - has not raced in the top flight since last year's Italian Grand Prix ten months ago, but looks set to be catapulted back onto the starting grid at the N?rburgring as Spyker grow increasingly frustrated with Albers' lacklustre form this year. The Dutchman has only twice out-qualified rookie team-mate Adrian Sutil in nine races, and matters came to a head in Magny-Cours when he drove out of the pit-lane with the refuelling hose still attached to his car, hastening his retirement from the race.

Klien has competed in 48 races in the highest echelon - all for Jaguar/Red Bull Racing - scoring 14 points and registering a best result of fifth place in the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix. He more recently drove Jenson Button's car in second free practice at Silverstone last weekend when the Briton suffered back problems.

Ferrari test-driver and Le Mans Series ace Marc Gen? and Williams tester Narain Karthikeyan are also believed to be under consideration for the drive, though the latter is deemed more likely to replace the recovering Ernesto Viso at GP2 outfit Racing Engineering.

"We spoke to Narain about the possibility," Racing Engineering team principal Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon confirmed to Crash.net. "Whoever comes into the car for the N?rburgring really has to stay there for the remainder of the season. We need stability.

"If Ernesto is given the all-clear he wants to race and probably will. He was initially given a two-round contract for Magny-Cours and Silverstone, but that's over now so we have to sit down and talk about it this week. Narain is also one of the drivers in consideration to jump into Albers' seat, though he seems to be a longer shot than Klien who brings more backing with him.

"Narain is keen [to come to GP2]. He came to me and said 'listen, I'm ready to jump in the car; just give me a call'. We need to speak to sponsors too though, because there may be a bit of a conflict between Williams' AT&T and Telefonica on our side."

More is expected to be revealed later in the week.

 

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