• Tonio Liuzzi's exclusive column

Back to the drawing board

ESPNF1 Staff
June 2, 2010
Tonio Liuzzi: "Our performance has just dropped off a cliff" © Getty Images

Tonio Liuzzi explains what he will do to turn his form around in the next two weeks and gives his view on the Sebastian Vettel/Mark Webber accident.

I've arrived back in the UK this week to visit the Force India factory and get to the bottom of the handling problems I had in Spain and Turkey.

I appreciate that if you're watching the races from outside it is not easy to understand how a driver can be so far off the pace of his team-mate in the same car. When you see F1 on TV it is very difficult to tell what is happening behind the wheel, but in Turkey we had the same problem we had in Barcelona where we couldn't put any load on the rear tyres and we couldn't find any grip.

The strangest thing is that we didn't have this issue before the Spanish Grand Prix, but since, with the exception of Monaco, . We thought we'd found a solution in Monaco, but in Turkey it was still a really big thing. We're not talking about one or two tenths here, it's a much bigger gap than that and that's what makes it so difficult to understand - it's something pretty weird. It has to be in the nature of the car, in the structure of it, because it's just not normal to be that far off your team-mate so suddenly.

I've tried a few different things in the car, a few different driving styles, and I've driven it the way Adrian [Sutil] does, but it didn't particularly help. For sure, if you have a problem part of the skill is to drive around it, but this is a much wider-ranging issue based on a fundamental lack of grip.

This week we are going to analyse every single part of the car that has changed since we first started having the problem in Spain. We changed the chassis at that race and we'll try to work out if it could be related to that or if it could be a problem with the harder compound tyres. In Spain and Turkey we were using the harder Bridgestones, but we also used those earlier in the year and it wasn't a problem, so we know that won't account for everything. As you can imagine it is quite confusing, but I am confident I have a great team around me and that they are more than capable of getting to the bottom of it before the next race in Canada.

Tonio Liuzzi struggled for rear-end grip in Turkey © Getty Images
But with that problem aside, we are clearly making progress with other aspects of the car and in Turkey one of the new additions was the F-duct. The team did a really great job developing that, because we waited a few more races to debut it compared to others, but it worked well for me all weekend. Adrian had some issues with it on his car and he didn't use it on Saturday and Sunday, but for me it was working correctly 100% of the time and is already a big help.

On the straights it gave us quite a big speed advantage and the best thing about it is that it's really easy to use. I use my wrist to activate it but, unlike some of the other teams' versions, I don't have to take my hand off the wheel. It's important to feel completely comfortable with it because we're kept very busy with all the other stuff in the cockpit, like engine braking, differential settings, the front wing adjuster and the brake balance, but I feel very happy with it.

The biggest headline to come from the Turkish Grand Prix was the crash involving the two Red Bull guys. In my opinion it was just a racing accident, but if you had to point the finger, maybe Vettel was a little more to blame. They were both very close on the straight and Webber did not leave much space for Vettel, but it seemed like Vettel then turned a bit too much to the right entering the corner and it's difficult to know why he did that. But of course it's very easy to judge from the outside and quite different when you are in the car. I've never really found myself having to make those kinds of decisions when so much is at stake.

I have always tried to avoid a dangerous situation like that with a team-mate
However, what I have done before is work under Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner and I know from experience he is a really smart guy. I'm pretty sure he will now take control of the situation and calm everything down but, for sure, it's not easy to make two drivers who are fighting each other for the world championship work together.

Focusing back on Force India, I think we are still close to Renault although that will be more apparent at some tracks over others. We have the F-duct that will give us a big advantage in places like Montreal, but we also have other improvements coming to the car and we are taking steps forward all the time. So I don't think we lost as much ground to Renault in Turkey as it might have seemed and I think, although Sauber are also becoming a threat, Adrian showed that we still have a top ten package over a full race distance.

In Canada we will have most of the crucial ingredients for a fast lap. We'll be using the softer tyres that worked well in Monaco, we'll have a good top speed because of the F-duct and our brakes have been pretty strong all season. The only other we need from the car is good traction, but we will have to wait and see what we can do to solve my problems this week before we can guarantee that. It will be my only question mark heading to Montreal, but if we can fix it, I'm confident I will be back fighting for top 10 positions.