• Tonio Liuzzi's ESPNF1 column

'I lost two kilos by the end of the race'

Tonio Liuzzi September 27, 2011
Tonio Liuzzi: "By the end of my 57 laps I knew I'd been in a race, that's for sure" © Sutton Images

By the end of my 57 laps I knew I'd been in a race, that's for sure. Singapore is one of the toughest challenges we face because it is nearly two hours long and incredibly hot and humid. When you have a car that doesn't have much grip and you are always controlling understeer, snap oversteer and fighting with it in every corner, the race feels even longer!

Fortunately I was prepared for it and it didn't affect my driving, but by the end of the race I had lost a couple of kilos in weight. I'm sure it was a tough one for all the drivers because I saw some very white faces as we got out of the cars.

As a backmarker life is made more complicated by blue flags and making sure you are out of the way of the cars coming round to lap you. At Singapore the traffic can be quite bad so you have to get right off the racing line to allow cars to pass. The problem with that is that you pick up all the marbles [bits of discarded rubber] on your tyres and you lose grip and get some weird vibrations. The last corner was one of the worst places for marbles and once you went wide there it took several laps to get the tyres back to normal. It all contributes to making it one of the toughest races of the year.

We had a really good start to the race and our pace wasn't too bad, with two strong opening stints. On the third stint we got a bit screwed up by the safety car because we lost quite a bit of time compared to our competitors, but even after that we still had a good pace up until my third pit stop.

Tonio Liuzzi launches his HRT over the kerbs © Sutton Images
At that point we put my third set of option [supersoft] tyres on and things got a little tricky. They were the same set I used for my second run in qualifying and we suspected we had a problem with them because I didn't improve on that run despite a good lap with the same setup. So when I put them on in the race and the car was lacking rear-end grip and locking at the front we knew there was an issue with the tyres themselves.

At turn 14 I locked up and nudged the barrier and that meant we had to come back to the pits and change the front wing as well as the tyres. For the remainder of the last stint the car was not entirely balanced and we were just dragging it around until the end, even though our pace was still quite good. The positive we can take from it is that we found the reason behind the qualifying result.

It's not that unusual to find a set of tyres that don't work like the others, it's happened in the past and I'm sure it's happened to plenty of other drivers. In this case it happened to us, but we can't blame anyone because Pirelli has done a wonderful job all season and it's just one of those things that happens in motor racing.

We showed a decent pace in the first two stints, and were not far off the Virgins, but we need to work for more developments and upgrades because that is the only way we can actually close the gap. We had a new part for Singapore but we knew from the beginning that it was not going to result in a big step forwards. It was a good thing in terms of balance but we still need to work harder over the remaining races because on its own it was not enough and was actually pretty invisible at Singapore. Maybe at a track like Suzuka, where downforce is more important, we will feel more of a difference.