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Exclusive: Interview with Christian Klien

NEWS STORY
04/12/2007

Force India was sufficiently impressed by your performance in Barcelona last month that the team has invited you back to join them in Jerez this week. How significant do you feel this is?
Christian Klien: The team's decision to invite me back to test in Jerez is good news, but I don't read anything into it other than the fact I have done a professional job so far. They have invited several other drivers, so they are obviously looking to see which drivers can contribute most to their programme; that's a normal thing to do and I am really looking forward to it. If things go well and I end up working with the team in the longer term I think we'll surprise a few people in F1 - it's a young, motivated team with fresh investment and determination to show that it can continue the good work it started in 2007.

How do you think Force India co-owner Dr Vijay Mallya coming on-board has made an impact?
CK: You can already see the difference within the team. He is constantly looking forward and is good at motivating everyone. He wants to bring in people with the necessary experience to help the team move forward, including drivers who can give the engineers really good feedback. The creation of Force India is the start of a new chapter in the team's history - from Jordan to Midland to Spyker - and I am happy to be part of that story at the moment. It is easy for everyone to forget that this is only one of five teams to win multiple Grands Prix in the last decade - it's not surprising that they want to rediscover their success under the new Force India name.

You're still only 24 and already have four years of Formula One experience - what have you learnt?
Christian Klien: That you have to work hard, stay focussed, believe in your own ability and work hard to build a team around you. I was only 21-years-old when I came into F1 and had to learn very quickly; I just had to get on with the job. There is no better lesson than race experience so I learned a lot in my first year with Jaguar in 2004 and worked hard to further demonstrate my ability with Red Bull Racing in 05 and 06. In Formula One, everybody is quick but it's in areas like how to deal with pressure that makes you stand out. In 2005 I had to compete for my drive at RBR against Liuzzi, for example, but I just concentrated on doing my job and it worked out fine.

How has the last year been working with Honda?
CK: This year testing has helped me improve as a whole driver package - when you are not racing you can spend some time analysing slightly different things. Working with the team and providing good quality feedback to help the engineers and aerodynamicists make positive changes has been a great experience. However, the new testing regulations severely limit the mileage the third driver can do; last year drivers would get 20,000km testing, but with the new regulations I've only been able to do 7,000km. There's only one test car that has to be shared between the three drivers and in addition there was no opportunity to get time in the car on race weekends. It's therefore difficult to show what you can do and prove how quick you actually are So, working with the Honda Racing F1 Team has been a very interesting experience but, when I realised that Jenson (Button) and Rubens (Barrichello) would continue as race drivers in 2008, I decided to focus on finding a race drive elsewhere. One year of testing was enough - I need to race and that is now where my focus is.

What do you think of Ross Brawns recent move to Honda?
CK: Honda is a big team so you need a strong person to manage everyone and focus their energy in the right direction. I am sure that Ross is the right person for the job. He can pull the right people together and he's shown at Benetton and Ferrari that he can get the best out of them. It will take time though, but it's a positive step for Honda and I really wish the team success in the future. Honda deserves to be a winning company in Formula One.

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