European drivers struggling for F1 seats - Klien
"It is pretty hard when you are from central Europe"
F1’s globalisation has made it harder for drivers from the sport’s traditional markets to find places on the grid.
That is the claim of Austrian Christian Klien, who raced a few times with the struggling new team HRT in 2010 and is hoping for a full season next year.
But with pay-drivers now wielding more power than in the recent past, Klien admitted the task is tough.
"Nico Hulkenberg’s case shows that there are no guarantees," he is quoted by Vorarlberg Online.
"He had a great debut year with a pole position in Brazil, and he’s out," said Klien.
"In my own case, I have some options," he revealed.
"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 (2011)," added Klien.
He thinks part of his difficulty in establishing a strong full-time return to F1 is geographic.
"It is pretty hard when you are from central Europe," said Klien, 27.
"F1 has internationalised very quickly and previously as a Briton, an Italian, a Frenchman, you had a good chance," said the Austrian.
"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 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," he added.