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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report


Coulthard close to Red Bull deal

Alan Baldwin | December 14, 2004 16:18 IST

David Coulthardmoved into pole position for a drive with Red Bull Racing after a top team official said hiring an experienced racer like him was a "no-brainer".

Team managing director David Pitchforth clearly backed the Briton on Monday and hoped a deal might be concluded before the resumption of pre-season testing next month.

Asked whether he would sign the former McLaren driver now if it was his decision, Pitchforth told reporters: "He's got all the experience and the ability to take the team forward that I need so, most likely, yes.

"Having an experienced driver is a no-brainer," he said.

The 33-year-old Scot had a solid test in Spain last week with the former Jaguar Formula One team bought from Ford by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of the Red Bull energy drink brand.

Pitchforth said Coulthard, who lost his drive at McLaren to Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and looked on the way out of Formula One until Red Bull showed interest, visited the Milton Keynes factory on Monday for a technical debrief with engineers.

He said he also hoped to meet him later in the week for further discussions.

However, with Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi and Austrian Christian Klien still in the frame for a race drive, Pitchforth cautioned that no deals were done.

TESTING PROCESS

"We've been going through our testing process and that's gone very well, quite pleased with that," he said.

"We've been pushing from the beginning to be sure we have some experience in the car to help us develop it and push it forward.

"DC [Coulthard] is on the list of experienced guys...we do need a mix of experience and youth and we've got to work out what that is yet.

"We need someone with experience who can help move the car along and obviously David would bring that to the team.

"We've just got to make sure that everything is done professionally and we have a contract and that's all part of the negotiation which is ongoing and may or may not end well for either side. Hopefully, it will.

"I would like not to test any more drivers because we've done quite a lot of that now...though its very interesting and we like doing it, it does detract from the hard work of getting the car up to speed."

Coulthard, who has won 13 races in the last decade with Williams and McLaren, is the only experienced driver Red Bull have tested and had been negotiating with Jaguar before Ford decided to pull out.

"Obviously, as far back as the Jaguar days we were talking to David and in that process you go over what would be part of a contract both ways," said Pitchforth.

"But we're still in that stage.

RIGHT PROCEDURES

"It needs to go through all the right procedures now and that means getting the lawyers involved. It needs everything ironed out and I need to spend some time with David to get his feedback on the test basically.

"I've got to say it's 50-50 because it could still go either way. It could go wrong," he said of the Scot's prospects.

There have been suggestions that Klien and Liuzzi could share the race seat, with Liuzzi starting as a Friday test driver before being drafted in later in the season, but Pitchforth ruled that out.

He pointed out that Klien, who raced for Jaguar as a rookie this year and has Mateschitz's backing, has too much experience to be allowed to carry out the Friday duties under Formula One's regulations.

Liuzzi, this year's Formula 3000 champion with Red Bull sponsorship, has made a big impression with his speed in testing and personality but there are concerns about his lack of experience and race fitness.

© Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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