By signing Red Bull-backed Austrian F1 rookie Chris Klien to take over Briton Justin Wilson’s racing seat next year, Jaguar Racing has added R110-million to its budget. Does Klien have any talent?

By signing Red Bull-backed Austrian F1 rookie Chris Klien to take over Briton Justin Wilson’s racing seat next year, Jaguar Racing has added R110-million to its budget. Does Klien have any talent?


Jaguar Racing director, David Pitchforth, has defended his team’s decision to sign Klien, even though it appeared that the Austrian’s contribution to the bottom line had been the determining factor.


"Our decision to employ him as a race driver was based on merit, potential and speed," said Pitchforth.


Klien stepped into a F1 car for the first time last week at Valencia, and turned in lap times in the 1:11,995 bracket. The latest Jaguar recruit demonstrated potential by setting lap times similar to current driver Mark Webber’s.


But it remains to be seen if this pace will improve or if Klien will be able to sustain it for a race distance in order to qualify for his super licence. Klien's new boss did make mention, in typically bizarre F1 fashion, of his driver’s "brain bandwidth" ability, but did not elaborate if it was AM or FM frequency...


Wilson has been left without a drive for the 2004 season. "I cannot thank Justin enough for his hard work and commitment since joining us after the British Grand Prix. Justin's speed, focus and experience are exemplary and our decision to put Christian in the racecar in no way reflects upon Justin's clear ability as a competitive racing driver,” Pitchford said.


“We are, however, in discussions with Justin about how Jaguar Racing can help with his future career." Apparently, the Briton is looking west to the American CART series.


Meanwhile, German F1 driver Nick Heidfeld has signed a preliminary contract to drive for Jordan next season. The 26-year-old was released by Sauber at the end of last season but is now set to join Jordan, although he has had to take a pay cut.


"We have come to an agreement," Heidfeld's manager Werner Heinz said. "Nick has reduced his wage demands." Heidfeld, who was earning an estimated R28,4 million a year at Sauber, will travel to Jerez today to test the new Jordan car.


"I am only 26 and believe I am a good driver. I refuse to accept that it is suddenly all over. Money is not important for me. I just want to stay in Formula One", Heidfeld said this week.