Christian Klien is a racing driver from Austria who has competed in various championships, including Formula 1. He recorded 49 starts in the Formula One World Championship between 2004 and 2010.
He also gained some success in sports car racing, reaching an overall podium at Le Mans 24 Hours in 2008 with Peugeot. Most recently, he competed with Emil Frey Racing's Jaguar in the Blancpain GT Series.
He was born on February 7, 1983, in Hohenems, a small town in the western part of the country and in the middle of the Austrian part of the Rhine valley. As a boy, Klien has competed in Austrian and Swiss karting championships before moving to German Formula BMW. In 2000, Christian finished 10th driving for the Rosberg Team, while in 2001, with the same team he was 3rd overall, after scoring five race wins.
Next year, talented Austrian driver moved to German Formula Renault 2000, driving for JD Motorsport. After winning 4 out of 14 races he was crowned as the series champion. With the same team, Christian also participated in the European Formula Renault 2000 and finished 6th overall.
The next stop in Klien’s career was Mucke Motorsport, team known as a perfect place for the young drivers. In 2003, with 4 race wins in his books, Klien was a runner-up of Formula 3 Euroseries, losing to Ryan Briscoe but as a consolation, he won the Masters of Formula 3 race at Zandvoort Circuit.
Formula 1 debut with Jaguar
At the end of 2003, it was announced that Klien signed with the Jaguar Formula 1 team. Driving alongside much more experienced Mark Webber, Christian left a solid impression in his rookie season. He proved to be a reliable driver after having only three retirements. Klien also scored his maiden points after finishing 6th at Spa before taking the 16th position in the final classification.
Two years with Red Bull Racing
Austrian energy drink company Red Bull bought Jaguar before the start of 2005 campaign and new owners wanted to test Klien’s possibilities before making a decision about his future with the team. The Austrian driver impressed during the test and outperformed David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi, so he stayed with the team, but he shared the duties with Liuzzi.
Christian entered 13 out of 19 races that year and was able to pick points on five occasions. The best result he scored was the 5th place in the season-closing race in China. With 9 points on his account, Klien finished the season in 15th place.
He stayed with Red Bull for another year but the season of 2006 wasn’t so good. He scored points only twice, finishing 8th in Bahrain and Germany and the team decided to drop him from the last three races of the season. He was offered a seat in Red Bull-backed team in the US ChampCar Series but Christian rejected that and decided to look for a new engagement in F1.
Waiting for another chance in Formula 1
Klien signed with Honda Racing F1 team for 2007 but he was only a test driver. The Japanese team released Christian in the middle of the season and he had a test with Spyker team which needed a replacement for Christijan Albers. However, Klien failed to secure a drive after Spyker signed Sakon Yamamoto.
In 2008, Klien signed with Sauber BMW and spent two seasons in Formula 1 acting as a test and reserve driver for the Swiss team. Finally, the season of 2010 was Christian’s last in Formula 1. He became a test and reserve driver of Hispania Racing Team but got an opportunity in three races later in the season. However, the results were poor and that was a pretty inglorious end of one chapter in the career of this Austrian driver.
Endurance racing career
While he was waiting for his chance in Formula 1, Klien in 2008 debuted in endurance racing. That year he debuted in Le Mans 24 hours driving for Team Peugeot Total and finished 3rd, alongside Ricardo Zonta and Franck Montagny. Later that year Christian also raced at Petit Le Mans, again with Peugeot, and finished 2nd in the race.
Next year, Klien returned to Circuit de la Sarthe with Peugeot but this time he was 6th, sharing the seat of Peugeot 908 HDi FAP with Nicolas Minassian and Pedro Lamy. With the same co-drivers, Klien finished 5th in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
As a member of Aston Marting Racing’s crew with Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner, Christian retired from 2011 Le Mans 24h after just 4 laps. Again with Aston Martin, Klien finished 9th in the Le Mans Series race at Silverstone. Later that year he made a one-off appearance in the V8 Supercars Championship, driving for Rod Nash Racing at Surfers Paradise street circuit.
After relatively unnoticed appearances in the championships like Auto GP and ADAC Procar Series in 2012 and 2013, Klien finally achieved something respectable in 2014. Competing in European Le Mans Series with Morand Racing team, Christian finished 3rd in the final standings when he was driving alongside Gary Hirsch and Pierre Ragues. They were the winners of the penultimate round of the season at Circuit Paul Ricard, while at Le Mans 24h they were 6th in LMP2 class.
Looking for the new experiences
In 2015, Klien jumped from one series to another and appeared in no less than five championships, including the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Japanese Super GT, but failed to impress. The last engagement that Klien has was in the Blancpain GT Series in which he joined Emil Frey Racing.
In 2016, he participated in just two rounds and then, in 2017, he was driving the #114 Jaguar in all five rounds of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. In 2018, he expanded his activities to full season both in the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup, driving the #14 Lexus RC F GT3. The highlight of the season was the victory in the endurance race at Circuit Paul Ricard.