- Tonio Liuzzi's ESPNF1 column
Promising pace at the NurburgringTonio Liuzzi July 26, 2011
It was definitely a positive weekend despite our eventual retirement from the race. Before we even turned a wheel I said that the Nurburgring would suit us and we would have a much better chance to beat the Virgins. We didn't have any upgrades on the car, and that's something that we have to improve in the short-term, but the Nurburgring was better suited to our current specification and since the first session on Friday we showed that we would put on a strong performance.
As soon as I jumped in the car for second practice we were showing a really good pace and also on Saturday morning I was happy with the car. The only time it didn't feel great was in qualifying and I was expecting a much better pace than we had - I even thought we could be ahead of our direct rivals. We didn't touch anything between the morning and the afternoon, but we still had massive problems with the front end of the car in Q1. We had a lot of understeer and I was not feeling confident with the car. The result was that we lost quite a lot of lap time because of the lack of balance.
For the race everything started going back in the right direction and we had a really good start and as usual I passed a few cars in the first couple of laps. Then Timo Glock and I started our battle, which was a very close fight up until my retirement. I think I was more competitive than him on the fresh tyres after my pit stop, but once I started suffering with the graining and problems with front locking he would gain a bit of an advantage. But at all times through the first two stints we were pretty close and both of us were clocking good lap times.
I was able to use the DRS on quite a few occasions, but the straight wasn't quite long enough to create the possibility to overtake. I couldn't quite get close enough out of the turn 11 and onto the back straight, although there were a couple of half chances that I didn't want to risk. The conditions also didn't help us as it was unbelievably cold and that causes problems getting the brakes and tyres up to temperature, especially when you have less downforce. I believe in warmer conditions we would have been more competitive.
On Friday morning I had to give my car over to Narain Karthiekyan. Of course you always want as much time as possible in the car, but I understand that the teams have priorities and sometimes when you have a low budget you have to compromise. So I fully understand the decision and for me it's not a problem for a Friday morning. I think there's a chance it might happen again but I'm not aware of anything at the moment and it's not something we really talk about.
Hungary is next but I don't think it's a circuit that will suit our car. Unfortunately it will be another race without any upgrades. But we are planning to push hard for the second half of the championship after the summer break and that's when we need to have a big step forward.
We still have some wind tunnel time scheduled at the Mercedes factory at Brackley, but it has been postponed to the beginning of August. For sure, we can expect some big results from that because the car has never been in a wind tunnel before and it will give a much better picture about the strengths and weaknesses of our car. I think it will help us a lot to have a clearer picture of the performance.
I still think everything is moving in the right direction, however. We've had a short time on standby but it was a one off and the team is still motivated to push for the future. I think the new owners have got big targets for the team and I think we are really motivated on our targets and focused on developing the team.
Tonio Liuzzi gives his views at the end of every grand prix weekend