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Responding to rumours

Tonio Liuzzi
September 28, 2010
Tonio Liuzzi had a tough weekend in Singapore © Sutton Images

ESPNF1 columnist Tonio Liuzzi reflects on his Singapore Grand Prix and responds to reports that he will be replaced by Paul di Resta at Force India next year

It was a weekend of two halves for us. We went from feeling confident on Friday to feeling disappointed on Sunday. We were always expecting a difficult weekend in Singapore because we knew our car wouldn't suit the track, but in the end the result was mainly due to bad luck.

On Friday everything went well and we were happy with the balance of the car. We changed a few things overnight, but we were positive for Saturday and we had an upgrade coming in time for the morning session. Final practice went well, even though we were blocked in traffic, and we came away confident with the car's balance, which is very important on a street circuit.

Q1 was pretty good and we thought we might be able to get close to Q3 or maybe into it. But in Q2 I had a big issue with the brakes and we have no idea where it came from. Every time I hit the brakes the car pulled to the left and the telemetry showed I had more than 1G of lateral force going through the car as I tried to slow it for a corner.

So 16th position was definitely not where we should have been and the brakes certainly screwed our session. The team couldn't tell what went wrong but changed all the systems before the race. The only problem then was that we had just one installation lap to see if it all worked before the start.

Force India mechanics work on Tonio Liuzzi's car © Sutton Images
It couldn't really have happened at a worse circuit because Singapore is really hard on brakes and the temperature was going sky high. I think if we'd gone further in the race it would have been really tough, but as it turned out we didn't have to worry about that.

I got a good start, went through the first three corners with a little bit of touching and then felt a nudge from behind but I didn't see who it was. At that point the car was still OK, so when I got to turn seven I tried to overtake Nick Heidfeld, but as I did my team-mate Adrian Sutil braked very late and came past us both on the outside. As it turned out, he left the braking a little bit too late and they both went deep into the corner, allowing me to take the normal line.

On the straight we came out three abreast but Adrian was on the inside and he squeezed Heidfeld towards me as he lined himself up for the corner. Unfortunately that meant I got squeezed massively into the wall and, in order to keep it out of the concrete, I had to let Nick hit me and that must have cracked the rear suspension.

I was able to continue for a bit, but as I started lap two the rear toe-link broke completely and I was forced to stop. When it snapped it was very difficult to keep the car in a straight line and I was worried that I might spin on the straight and create a very dangerous situation for the rest of the field.

Tonio Liuzzi parked his car off the racing line but the race director still called for a safety car © Sutton Images
I tried to find the safest place to stop by looking for a hole in the barrier, but in the end parked it on the left-hand side of the track after turn 10. I felt it was the safest option on that part of the circuit, but they deployed the safety car anyway. Either way, my race was over and that was that.

Over the weekend there were rumours that Paul di Resta has secured a seat at Force India next year. Personally I don't know if he has a place or what his contract says, but from my understanding that would mean that Adrian is out because I have a contract. The truth is that I haven't heard anything like that from inside the team and nothing has changed, so I can only assume that the stuff on TV and in the papers is a rumour.

It's well appreciated in the team that my results have not been my fault and Vijay Mallya has given me his full trust. In a few weeks more information will come out, but I'm not worried by the speculation in the press in the mean time. That kind of stuff is normal at this stage of the year, especially when there are rookies that people want to get into the business - more and more rumours are created. I don't really fear that, I just want to do the best I can for the team and secure Force India sixth in the championship.

But to do that we have to beat Williams and they are now just four points behind us in the constructors' championship. I'm confident that we will be fast until the end of the season and the next race at Suzuka will be a big chance to increase the gap. But we can't deny that Williams have done a good job in the last few months and we know that they won't just go to sleep and make it easy for us. But we've also got remember that we have been unlucky with the car and missed out on a few points that we should have had.

Tonio Liuzzi is looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix © Sutton Images
Looking specifically at the Japanese Grand Prix, I know Suzuka well and it's one of the old-school circuits still left in the championship like Spa and Monza - it's a real man's circuit. We saw last year in qualifying that wet conditions cause a lot of spins, so you have to be on the top of your game. I really enjoy the high-speed technical corners, especially the first sequence where you have to be very accurate.

Our car is better suited to this kind of circuit than Singapore, so I think it'll be one of our big chances to increase the gap to Williams. After that we have Korea, which is an unknown for everyone, and Brazil and Abu Dhabi, where our car will be OK but maybe not one of the favourites. So Suzuka is a big race for us.

Looking at the top five drivers in the championship, we are set for a great battle over the next two months. If I had to put my money on one of them I would say Mark Webber, because - although Ferrari should be strong at Suzuka - I think Red Bull have still got an advantage in the car overall and Webber is not making mistakes at the moment, he's optimising everything. Of course I don't know what the teams have planned in terms of updates, but if I had to bet I would put my money on Webber.