- Tonio Liuzzi's Cockpit View - Bahrain Grand Prix
'This could turn out to be one of the best years'
ESPNF1 columnist Tonio Liuzzi reflects on last weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the new regulations and what to expect from Force India in Australia.
Finishing ninth and getting two points at the first race of the season was a great result. The team was aiming for points from the beginning of the design process, so it's great to hit that target so early in the season and now we can push from here. The top four are still a little bit ahead of us but we are not too far behind and are ready to be there in case they have any problems. The Renault of Robert Kubica was really competitive, so after the top four I think it will be between us and Renault to fight for fifth place in the championship this season.
Looking back at the race, I had a bit of a crazy start behind Webber. I thought he had blown his engine because there was a lot of really big white smoke, which is usually a sign of an engine letting go. But I think Red Bull filled up the oil tank too much and then it burned off the excess on the exhaust. Sitting behind it was like going into a blind corner, you just couldn't see anything and that is very dangerous. In the future we need to be more careful about that kind of thing because it ruined my team-mate Adrian Sutil's race and it could have been a lot worse.
One of the big surprises from the weekend was how the tyres behaved. Before we arrived nobody expected to be able to go the whole race with just one pit stop. We all thought that the softer compound would wear out quickly but in fact it was the opposite and it was very easy to drive on. We started the race on harder tyres because we thought the cars at the front would struggle on the softs with so much fuel on board. But it wasn't like that at all and in fact the hard tyre was suffering almost as much, I was having a lot of understeer. When it was my turn for the soft tyres they worked really well and we had a really good consistent pace. It's always difficult at the first race to understand how things will pan out but I think we had a good race all the way to the end.
But overall I think this could turn out to be one of the best years. I think under these regulations you will see a purer form of racing that shows the potential of the driver much more. I say that because in the past you would just go out 100% from start to finish and now you have factor in preserving the tyres and the fuel. You've got a lot of things to think about and you have to change your driving and strategy during the race. It's much more about the driver's mental aptitude and that's a good thing.
The next race on the calendar is in Australia and I think I can do even better there than in Bahrain. Bahrain was not our kind of circuit, it was too slow, too Mickey Mouse, and Melbourne has got a better flow to it. We want to show and confirm our potential and try to get a few more points. One thing which we didn't have available in Bahrain was the adjustable front wing so I couldn't change my front flap during the race when I was getting understeer. We didn't have it because we were slightly concerned about reliability but it is something we want to make sure we have on the car in Australia. The competition is so tough that we cannot afford to give away even a tenth of a second.