• Tonio Liuzzi interview

'I've never paid for a drive and I cannot start now'

ESPNF1 Staff
February 23, 2011

Tonio Liuzzi talks about his recent test with HRT, his chances of a drive in 2011 and why he will never pay to be in F1

Tonio Liuzzi was back in the F1 paddock at Barcelona © Getty Images

How did your first test with HRT go?
Definitely an interesting day, I was quite happy to be back in a car after the long wait of the winter, but we had a lot of work to do in the morning. The main reason of the test was to get a feel for the team, a feel for the car and in order for them to get to know me - so basically to start a little approach. I have to say that I enjoyed the day, it was an interesting day. We had a lot of things to do in the car, we put the car a bit upside down from the morning to the afternoon. We had some good runs so at the end of the day I was pretty happy with the way it went. The car obviously has a lot of development to do, but in the end we had a good balance. By the afternoon we could be proud of the job we'd done during the whole day.

How does it compare to the Force India last year?
For sure it's still a long way behind but it was their first year and Dallara hadn't designed a Formula One car for a long time. So the car was quite a long way off that range and there was quite a lot of work to do basically. In the afternoon we had some good runs but there was also a problem with the gearbox and our lap time as not as good as it could have been. Overall there are some good positive aspects in it.

And the new tyres, did you get a good idea of how they work?
The tyres are really good and work really well with the car because they are consistent in terms of balance between soft, medium and hard compounds - you just change tyre and get more grip. So overall the reaction to the tyre was really good linked to the car. The wear is not new, everybody is struggling, but I think it is what Formula One needed. Pirelli have done a good job and it's good to have tyres like this because we can have a lot more pit stops and a lot more challenging races.

Where do things go now with HRT, are you looking to get a drive?
At the moment it was just the one shot, but for sure there are some talks about the future and anything could be open, let's see what will happen. There are some interesting talks now with them and also we have some other options, but for sure driving is the most important thing and we are not resting at that either.

Tonio Liuzzi was positive about HRT's potential after his first test © Sutton Images

Would you take a race drive with HRT over a test drive with a more established team?
It depends who the team is and on all the conditions and terms and the possibilities. Everything is critical at the moment in Formula One, a lot of things change monthly so we will see. At the moment nothing is decided, we're just having good talks and we'll listen in the next days to see what will happen.

And is HRT looking for a driver with a budget to help financially this year?
They're talking and looking quite good with some sponsors, so there could be good potential to increase the budget of the team and the development of the team for sure. They would prefer a driver that brings money I guess, but it's not my case because I've never done it and I cannot start now. I bring my experience, my speed and I do my best for the team, that's for sure. The rest I would try to help as much as I could to find sponsors, but I cannot afford to pay to be a driver. I will put my 100% to the team as I always have done. I started with Toro Rosso and Force India in their very first years, so I don't see it as a problem to be with HRT. The program is what is important for the future and we will see what will happen in these few days.

Do you think the car can be more competitive than last year?
More competitive than last year? For sure. Competitive enough? I'm not sure. It's a question mark because everything is happening late, the new car is coming late and the budget is limited as well. It's all critical, but for sure they have got some interesting plans and if they happen it will be good.

Tonio Liuzzi: "Every year you are under examination" © Sutton Images
Do you think it's the kind of team where you can show off your talent and prove some of your critics from last year wrong?
The critics from last year doesn't really touch me because everybody knows my level and my skill and last year in the car so many things happened. It was not always working properly and that is the reason why we struggled in quite a lot of races. But every year you are under examination, so this year, in the case that it happens with HRT, every year you have to perform 100% and give your best at races. So for sure I will be under examination, but I'm not worried and I'm not worrying about any criticism from last year.

Do you have another date in the car with HRT lined up?
We'll wait and see at the moment, we still don't know.