• Tonio Liuzzi's exclusive column

The Hungary safety car explained

ESPNF1 Staff
August 3, 2010
Tonio Liuzzi in the cockpit of his Force India © Sutton Images

Much like everyone else in Hungary our race revolved around the safety car. Unfortunately for us the only difference is that we caused it when my front wing snapped.

The Hungaroring is a really tight circuit, especially turn one and I went in there at the start with three or four cars around me. I was really close to Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button but I didn't think I had contact with anybody. It must have been very light because I didn't know I had hit them and no debris flew up at the point.

But as soon as I got up to speed I could tell there was something wrong with the handling of the car because I was getting a huge amount of understeer. So I asked the team to check from the pit wall if they could see a problem but they radioed back saying they couldn't spot anything.

It must have been the smallest of cracks in the endplate and we possibly lost a winglet as well. I was going to keep going until my planned stop a few laps later but on lap 14 a whole chunk of the wing just flew off over my head. It was a fairly big bit because it then caused the safety car and that mixed up the race for everyone. Unfortunately it didn't really help us because when everything panned out we were stuck behind Sebastien Buemi in the Toro Rosso which was much slower than us.

We headed to the Hungaroring knowing it was not going to be a good race for us but in fact our pace wasn't that bad and we were certainly faster than Buemi. But as we have seen on that circuit so many times before, it is very difficult to overtake. I tried everywhere but knew my best bet was into turn one, and that meant I needed a good exit out of the final corner.

Tonio Liuzzi could not find a way past Sebastien Buemi © Sutton Images
It's hard to see why on the TV but trying to pass another car at the Hungaroring is really difficult. There is only one straight, and it isn't very long, so for most the lap it's one corner after another and you can't get close.

You're forced to change your style in order to get a bit of clean air over the front wing and maintain the downforce and stay in touch. But as soon as you get close enough to think about making a move you lose the downforce and the front end just washes out. It's a problem that all cars have but it can happen more or less depending on your aero package. Unfortunately we were struggling a lot and Buemi didn't make any big mistakes for me to take advantage of.

The fact that Rubens Barrichello could only get past Michael Schumacher on new soft tyres also proves that point. I know it was a controversial move but I've only seen the incident quickly on YouTube, so I'm not entirely sure what happened. But from what I saw it was clearly quite aggressive and it was a bit of a risky move. I will have to see the rest of the video to make a full judgement.

On Friday the team was very busy running our new blown diffuser on my team-mate's car. We just had one example of the floor and because I had Paul di Resta driving my car in the morning we tested it on Adrian Sutil's. We got some good results but we didn't use it for qualifying or the race because we didn't have enough information on how it performs over a long run - it would have been a bit risky.

But it definitely increased overall grip and overall downforce, so it's another development on our car that should soon be successful. I will have to wait until Spa to confirm the improvement myself, but it's really good to see the team still pushing and never giving up on the development of the car.

The other big development area at the moment is flexi wings but we will hold off in that area. It all depends on the regulations and when we can clarify what exactly is allowed in terms of the wing's ground clearance. Whether it's the wing flexing or something else, the Red Bull and Ferrari cars are running much closer to the ground at the front and that creates a lot more downforce.

So for sure it's an avenue of development we want to explore, but at the moment it is not clear what will be legal and what won't be. In the meantime we are happy to keep the focus on the blown diffuser and then, after Spa when it's all been cleared up, we'll think about it.

Tonio Liuzzi is looking forward to the second half of the season © Sutton Images
Looking back at the first half of the season, I think we can be really happy as a team because we are sixth in the championship and we are very proud of that. From a personal view, I'm a bit upset that we've lost out on a few points along the way, which would have been really important for me and the team.

In Malaysia I was running well until I had a throttle problem and then of course there were all those races where we lost a lot of time understanding the issues with the handling. In Turkey I had a problem with the F-duct and then at other events we still had an issue with the top speed. It's hard to put an exact figure on it, but I think we've lost out on 15 points in total.

But we're still in a good position for the remaining seven races. After the break we will start at Spa and Monza, two tracks where we know we will be competitive. Last year we got pole at Spa and this year's car is an evolution of that one so we can aim high and hopefully be as strong as we were in Canada. Of course our wider aim is to finish sixth in the championship and we'll do everything we can to achieve that target.