- Tonio Liuzzi's ESPNF1 column
'I saw a bit of carbon fibre flying towards my car'Tonio Liuzzi October 18, 2011
Tonio Liuzzi explains how a flying piece of carbon fibre ruined his Korean Grand Prix and explains how he will approach the Indian Grand Prix on a track he has never driven
At the start of the race I got past both Virgins and then past a Lotus along the second straight to turn three. It was a really intense battle on the run down to the corner and I was alongside the Renault of Bruno Senna and a few others who were fighting at the back of the midfield. Then I saw a bit of carbon fibre flying towards my car and had no option but to drive through it. I felt it hit my front wing so I backed off a little bit, but I didn't know how bad the damage was.
Then, under braking for turn three, I felt that the front end was much weaker and I locked up my front tyres, allowing Timo Glock to get back in front. I continued to fight heading into turn four, but the weakness at the front was still there and I locked my tyres again. I couldn't stop as quickly as I'd hoped and I hit the back of Glock's car. That was the end for the front wing and I was forced to pit on the first lap. That killed our race because, even though I had a good pace, I was the only driver that was a lap down on the leaders when the safety car came out, and that meant I was basically a lap down on the whole field at the restart.
To make things worse the car was still struggling. We replaced the front wing but the balance was still not good and we were always having to move out the way of the traffic lapping us. So overall the second part of the race was much tougher and we also found that I was down on top speed because of another issue that we need to investigate. In many respects it was a pretty negative race, but we still finished and didn't have any major reliability problems, so that's a positive I suppose.
Also, my HRT team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had a good race and was able to fight with the Virgins, which seemed to be struggling over the weekend. Overall the pace we had in Korea was positive until my problems which affected the balance and top speed.
Unfortunately, I think our improved competitiveness was only because of the characteristics of the circuit as we didn't bring any upgrades to the car. It was strange because our pace was really strong compared to our usual performance, and even compared to the leaders - looking at the difference in lap time to Red Bull - we were stronger.
So I guess the style of the circuit really suited our car and that enabled us to close the gap and fight closely with the Virgins. Hopefully that will be the same in the coming races, but we cannot be sure about it. As I said, we didn't bring any upgrades and we know Formula One cars don't just magically go faster. The good news is that this weekend we had fewer issues ahead of the race, unlike Suzuka where we had all sorts of problems during practice and qualifying.
At the moment we have only looked at a map and the shape of the track, but this week I will see if I can get to see a proper video or maybe a computer game. But you need a simulator to get the best idea and in the past few years I became quite used to tools like that, which are a massively important for new events like India and Korea last year.
Right now I'm waiting for my flight to Australia's Gold Coast where I am set to take part in an Australian V8 race next weekend. I got the invitation in March when we were in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix and couldn't resist. While my priority is always Formula One, if I have some free time I also like to try other experiences, such as touring cars. I think F1 drivers should be complete and versatile, which is why I give myself different challenges and I want to succeed in different things.
Touring cars are much more aggressive and physical to drive than F1 cars, and you have closer fights with other cars. You find yourself side-by-side and door-to-door more often than in F1 and it requires a different style of racing. It should be a fun weekend.