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Klien hoping to hold onto HRT drive
Christian Klien is pinning his hopes of a 2011 race drive on HRT, which he believes will be a credible team next season.
Klien took part in three races this season for HRT, standing in for pay driver Sakon Yamamoto. However, he said that it is becoming increasingly difficult for drivers from Europe to break into F1 when competing against well-financed drivers from new markets.
"Nico Hulkenberg's case shows that there are no guarantees," he told Vorarlberg Online. "He had a great debut year with a pole position in Brazil, and he's out. In my own case, I have some options.
"The most obvious one of course is HRT, who are on the verge of establishing themselves as a serious competitor, even if there are some setbacks from time to time. In February there was not much of a team and I would not have believed I would contest three grands prix this year. And there's still some time until March.
"It is pretty hard when you are from central Europe. F1 has internationalised very quickly and previously as a Briton, an Italian, a Frenchman, you had a good chance. Today there are more cockpits from before, but the driver market is being fed from many more countries; Russia, India, the southeast Asian region, and now probably Korea and China. And if you're the eighth German, then it is very difficult. Look at France and Italy - 20 years ago there were ten of each. And today?"
The other problem, according to Klien, is the economic climate and the power wielded by drivers who carry substantial commercial backing.
"Even a big name like Kimi Raikkonen in the World Rally Championship is relying on sponsors to get his cockpit," said Klien. "And in F1 the teams are under enormous cost pressure."