Christian Klien has revealed he’s making every effort to land the final vacant slot on the 2011 grid, at HRT. Klien, who raced for the Spanish team at three Grands Prix in 2010, is working hard behind the scenes to secure the second seat alongside Narain Karthikeyan, despite some tough competition from other drivers.
“My manager Roman Rummenigge is in permanent contact with the team's management,” Klien explained in an interview with his official website. “Needless to say I would love to drive for HRT. I am convinced the team will make good progress and surprise a few people.
"In Geoff Willis and chief designer Paul White they have engineers who know very well how to build competitive racing cars. I would love to develop it further. And they are masters of efficiency like no other team on the grid.”
At last month’s three-day test at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, HRT opted to evaluate former Force India racer Vitantonio Liuzzi and one-time Midland tester Giorgio Mondini, but Klien doesn’t believe this has dented his own hopes.
“All tests were done with the 2010 car, which I raced last season,” the Austrian said. “Together with the race engineers I did a lot of set-up work on it to improve performance. At the end of the season we were able to close the gap to the other teams although there was not a single new part all year long.
"Other drivers like Tonio or Giorgio Mondini have no experience in this car. From a team's perspective it is only justified to get as much feedback as possible and test other drivers' work.”
Following his strong showing at the Barcelona test, Liuzzi is reportedly the leading candidate at the moment. Klien, however, isn’t going to let the contest affect his good relationship with the Italian, with whom he shared a seat at Red Bull in 2005.
“Yeah, funny, isn't it?” Klien said. “At Red Bull we were both members of the groundbreaking 'seat sharing' model. But Tonio and I have remained good friends over the years. As usual we phoned after his HRT test. No matter who gets the drive, it will not change our good and respectful relationship.”
If he does miss out on the HRT seat, Klien hasn’t really thought of a ‘Plan B’ yet, although he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking on a third-driver role.
“Currently my focus is on F1 only,” he added. “The only alternative to the seat at HRT would be a third-driver role with a clear prospect of a race seat some time soon. If neither works out you will certainly find me racing elsewhere.
"There are many interesting international series which offer a high level of professionalism, technological challenges and many miles in the car. Luckily, once you have established yourself as a driver in F1 the door to other series is always open.”
The Austrian shouldn't have too long to wait until he finds out where his future lies. HRT, whose 2011 car is yet to make its on-track debut, have less than three weeks to decide on a team mate for Karthikeyan, with the Australian season opener set to take place in Melbourne from March 25-27.