Tonio Liuzzi talks about being taken out of his second consecutive grand prix and gives an insight into both Force India's 2011 car and his preparations for Korea
There was nothing I could do about the outcome of my Japanese Grand Prix, I was simply a passenger. I had a really good start and I was already past five or six cars as I entered the first corner, but then suddenly I saw Felipe Massa coming across the circuit at me like a rocket.
At first I thought he must have had a failure, like his suspension letting go or something, but I saw a video after the race and it was obvious that he tried too hard with Nico Rosberg, got on the grass and then completely lost control of his car. I couldn't do anything, I tried to avoid him in the last few metres before impact but I didn't stand a chance.
It was definitely 100% his fault, I think that was obvious to everyone, and he admitted it as well. But I think the reason he was not penalised - like Vitaly Petrov was for taking out Nico Hulkenberg - was because there was a situation between him and Rosberg, and I think Felipe said that he was being closed off by the Mercedes and had to take to the grass. That's the only reason I can think of, it was a bit strange ... but it went his way.
Having said that, the crash doesn't change my relationship with Felipe. I've always approached racing knowing that my friendships are not created or broken on the track. When we close the visor it is normal that both he and I do everything possible to gain an advantage - that's racing. If it was any other way then I should already have fallen out with Felipe over Montreal. But I know it's nothing personal with me, it's just a result of what happened between him and Rosberg and I was unlucky to be in the way.
The real shame is that, after my run down to the first corner, I was in a brilliant position for the race. I was on hard tyres and up to about 10th or 11th and, when you consider what Kamui Kobayashi did on the same strategy, we could have scored some very good points. On Friday our long-run pace looked a bit stronger than Sauber's, so I know I could have made the tyres last and put in the lap times to move up the field. After qualifying we weren't expecting much from our grid position, but my get away made all the difference and I could have scored some valuable points.
Looking at the final three races, we need to be quicker in qualifying if we are going to achieve our objective of beating Williams in the constructors' championship. In the second half of the season we have been struggling to get temperature into the tyres over one flying lap and that means we've started further back and sometimes got into trouble at the start. But, with only minor upgrades still to come to the car, we're going to have to live with that problem a bit and just try to understand if there is a way we can limit it.
But the team knows that we need to keep pushing if we are going to keep the pressure on Williams. They have made a huge step forward and their car is now consistently in the top ten. At the moment they are a bit faster than us but it's always surprising how much car performance can change from circuit-to-circuit, so I think we can still spring a surprise in Brazil. Then there are factors out of our control like safety cars, so we have to make sure that even if we aren't in the best shape we still maximise our opportunities.
Of course our attention is also split with next year's car now. We've been working very hard on that for about two months, and as a driver I can give direction on what the good parts of the current car are and where it needs to be developed. You always try to push development to suit your driving style, but for sure it will be a balance between both drivers because we are a team. But I did a lot of the work on this year's car and from our improved results the team knows they can trust my input. That kind of confidence is very important when you are working on a project like this.
The first impressions of the 2011 car are very good and at the moment it looks like the car will be competitive. However, a lot will depend on how the tyres react, so until we test the new Pirellis in Abu Dhabi at the end of the season there will still be a few question marks.
The track surface will still be a bit of an unknown until we turn up in Korea and its condition will depend on what the weather was like when they were laying the tarmac. It could be a bit of a risk and we will have to analyse how the tyres reacted straight after the first practice session on Friday. We believe that the FIA is doing its absolute best to make sure everything is as good as possible but we won't know for sure until after first practice.
But from Force India's perspective a bit of uncertainty over the surface is no bad thing. In Canada the tyres struggled and we were really strong, obviously we can't go to Korea expecting to be as good as we were there, but in the race we could put in a good performance because we know our car looks after its tyres. It should be a very interesting weekend for everyone involved.