Tag Archives: Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi given 5-place penalty for impeding Hulkenberg

Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi has recieved a 5-place penalty for the British Grand Prix, after being deemed by the stewards to have held up Nico Hulkenberg in Q2 in qualifying. At the Becketts corner, Liuzzi was too slow ahead of Nico, and also moved across slightly just before the corner.

This means that Liuzzi will drop 5 places, from 15th to 20th on the grid. The penalty was issued because blue flags were waving as Liuzzi exited the pits, into the path of Hulkenberg.

Can Liuzzi hang on?

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil this year

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil this year

This is the third attempt Vitantonio Liuzzi has had in Formula 1. Only 2 of those should really be taken into consideration though, as his first stint with Red Bull was an absolute mess, as the driver rotation system left him on the sidelines far too often. Despite this, he has had plenty of time to adjust to F1, but he still hasn’t made the grade.

This season, he has been comfortably outpaced by team-mate Adrian Sutil in practically every race. He has been out-qualified 6-1 by Sutil, and that would have been 7-0 if it wasn’t for Vitaly Petrov’s crash in Monaco qualifying. So, the question is, how long can Liuzzi hang on for? Because there is increasing pressure from many sides to see him go, most notably from talented rookie test driver Paul di Resta.

As we can see here, his pace against Sutil has been very poor in the first 7 races, being out-paced in all but one race: (Don’t forget Sutil was in a first-lap collision and had an engine failure in the first 2 races)

Bah Aus Mas Chn Esp Mon Tur Points
Adrian Sutil 12 RET 5 11 7 8 9 22
Vitantonio Liuzzi 9 7 RET RET 15 9 13 10

In his entire 51 races in Formula 1, I have only seen 2 notable performances. The first was his drive to 6th place at the 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. However, this was overshadowed by him still being beated by team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who was 4th. The second good drive was Italy 2009, where he was in contention for a podium, before a transmission failure ruled him out. That was his first race returning to F1, but he has been unimpressive since then.

Some people will argue that some of it is just bad luck, and Liuzzi may well have the pace to match Sutil. However, this next chart says differently. This chart puts Sutil’s and Liuzzi’s qualifying performances together. Since qualifying is low-fuel, it is an excellent opportunity to show true pace in a driver.

(Note: If one driver was knocked out in Q1/Q2, then the other driver’s time will be from that same session, to ensure similar track conditions when the times were set.)

Bah Aus Mal Chn Esp Mon Tur
Adrian Sutil 1.54.996 1.25.046 1.50.914 1.36.671 1.21.985 1.15.318 1.27.951
Vitantonio Liuzzi 0.627 0.697 1.34 0.49 0.869 -0.257 1.007

Worse still for Liuzzi, there is a very talented youngster in the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to drive in Formula 1. Paul di Resta has been competing in several Friday Practice sessions this year, and even with such limited milage has been showing potential. Shown below are Di Resta’s times comared to Sutil and Liuzzi:

Aus Chn Esp
Adrian Sutil 1.38.008
Vitantonio Liuzzi 1.28.192 1.23.284
Paul di Resta 0.345 0.61 -0.254

As we can see, on one occasion Paul di Resta has managed to beat Liuzzi, this time in Spain. The other time, Liuzzi was faster, but only by three tenths of a second. However, that was Paul’s first ever practice session, so that is a very poor margin for Liuzzi considering that. On the other hand, when Sutil was up against Di Resta, he comfortably beat him by 6 tenths.

In my opinion, Di Resta should get Liuzzi’s seat, preferably by the British Grand Prix. Don’t forget, this is the man who, in the 2006 F3 Euroseries, beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the title by 11 points. A talent like this doesn’t deserve to be wasting away in DTM, so I fee that Liuzzi should make way if he doesn’t improve soon. What do you think?

20th February- Testing results: Button on top in final day at Jerez

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

The Jerez testing fortnight finally ended today. Note the “finally”, because the teams must have been completely exasperated by the horrible weather conditons we have had over the last 2 weeks. Nevertheless, Jenson Button finished the test on a high, as he topped the timesheets today.

The Briton’s time of 1.18.871 was the fastest of the entire testing fortnight,  ahead of Robert Kubica (1.19.114) and Kamui Kobayashi (1.19.188). The weather was excellent today, as shown by the fact that the 3 fastest times of the last 2 weeks were set today. Most of these fast laps were set in the morning, as everyone switched to heavy fuel running in the afternoon.

Unlike the other days, we didn’t have scrambling of strategies to suit the conditionsm as the teams focused mostly on long fuel runs. Therefore, we didn’t see as much action as we have over the last few days. However, one of the main causes of concern was for Mark Webber, who suffered a serious mechanical problem. This has not been explained yet by Red Bull, but his engine was changed as a precautionary measure. Also, the only other red flag today was for Timo Glock, who stopped after another hydraulic problem for the Virgin car.

In fact, before the problem, he was really on the pace, lapping the same as the rest of the midfield, before the hydraulic gremlins showed up again after only 28 laps. Jarno Trulli and the Lotus team fared much better. Although their best lap was 1 second slower than Glock, they managed 141 laps in total, the highest of any driver today.

The rest of the paddock all were as solid as Lotus. Jaime Alguersuari got in 139 laps, followed closely by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso (137). Nico Rosberg got 130 laps, while Kubica and Kobayashi managed 117. Otherwise, Button got 108, Webber got 87 and Liuzzi got 80. Over the last 4 days, Nico Hulkenberg has got the most mileage in, with a mammoth 275 laps.

Statistics from the entire test will be up soon.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.18.871 108
2. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.19.114 +0.243 117
3. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1.19.188 +0.317 117
4. A. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.19.650 +0.799 80
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.061 +1.190 130
6. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.436 +1.565 137
7. J. Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.053 +2.182 139
8.9.

10.

11.

M. Webber

N. Hulkenberg

T. Glock

J. Trulli

Red Bull

Williams

Virgin

Lotus

RB6

FW32

VR-01

T127

1.21.194

1.21.919

1.22.433

1.23.470

+2.323

+3.048

+3.562

+4.599

87

137

28

141

Pictures from the test:

18th February- Testing results- Barrichello storms through the rain

Today in Jerez, we again saw the weather hamper runnings, but not without some good news. For example, Barrichello proved he has pace in the Williams, and the Virgin finally got up to speed.

Once again, as the session started at 8, the track was damp and required intermidiates. Unlike the other days, all the teams are pessimistic about the forecast. Inside Ferrari simply says on Twitter: “Nothing new at Jerez: just rain, rain and more rain to come…”

The good news is that Timo Glock was straight out of the pits today in the Virgin, and within half an hour had set 15 laps. But, he speared off at the Michelin corner (turn 2), and the red flags were out while his car was being recovered. When the session resumed, Felipe Massa led the way with a 1.30 time. At 9:00, Heikki Kovalainen made his first laps for Lotus, made 3 installation laps, but failed to set a time, and returned to the pits soon after. Yesterday’s power steering issue had been resolved, so the team were confident. Worryingly enough, Glock’s off was more serious than anticipated, as the doors to the Virgin garage were locked off as the car was taken apart for repairs. He didn’t actually hit anything when he spun, but it is believed thata mechanical problem of some sort caused the spin.

Timo Glock after spinning off

Timo Glock after spinning off

By 9:20, Ferrari were reporting a problem with Massa’s car, saying: “We have a technical issue: the stop will not be short… Nothing serious but it will take time to sort it out.” The rain soon got heavier, and more was forecast for later today. The rain got so heavy that all of the electricity sockets in the media centre lost power, because of electrical problems. Lewis Hamilton made the call for extreme wets at 9:40, and his fastest lap in his 5-lap run was a 1.36, showing how bad the conditions had become. By 10:00, the red flag was shown, not for an incident, but because there was so much standing water on the track. While the teams regrouped, it turned out that there was a problem with Kovalainen’s Lotus. It is unclear what happened, but a picture was taken, so you can see for yourself.

A problem in the Lotus pits

A problem in the Lotus pits

In fact, by 10:30, the weather was so bad the teams couldn’t even practice pit stops. The media centre apparently didn’t even have lighting, the journalist’s laptop lights were the only brightness in the room. Let’s make it clear, though, that this is nowhere near the monsoon we saw at Malaysia last year. Vettel, Kovalainen, Glock and Buemi all went out soon, but didn’t manage much, although Glock and Vettel did get good mileage in the conditions. By 11:30, Glock had finished a 13-lap stint, leaving him with 40 laps already under his belt. Plenty of cars braved the conditions, but few set good lap time, mostly in the 1.35 range. At 11:50, Kovalainen ran off at Turn 3, after an 8-lap run, and got stuck in the gravel. His front wing was badly damaged, so Lotus were forced to evaluate the damage to the car.

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

By 12:30, conditions were slightly improving, with no rain falling, but the track still wet and windy. Vitaly Petrov managed a 1.30.6, a good lap in those conditions. Everyone was still on extreme wets at this point. Rubens Barrichello was alternating betwen very fast and very slow laps, getting a 1.27 and a 1.35 in the same 17-lap stint. His best and worst times were 9 seconds apart, showing you how varying the conditions were. It wasn’t the rain that was hampering the team’s efforts, it was the wind. Inside Ferrari reported: “The wind is making the day even more troubled…” The good news was, the track was improving, as Petrov got into the 1.27.8 by 13:00.

By 1, everyone knew that the Lotus would be out of action for the day. Kovalainen was apologetic on his Twitter account, while Mike Gascoyne said: “Slight off for Heikki. Knocked off the front wing. Spare on its way but will not be here until 2am in the morning so no more running today” . “Conditions drying up so a shame not to get any dry running today”. Up to about 14:00, there was little change at Jerez, at the track still wasn’t drying out enough. Paul di Resta handed over his car to Vitantonio Liuzzi at 2, and he got stuck in immidiately, setting a 1.30.6 after 9 laps. Many teams had given up on conditions, such as Ferrari, who decided to practice pitstops, as the Williams crew watched them sometimes.

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

At 14:30, Timo Glock went out, and was the only man on track for 15 minutes, before Petrov joined him. Glock finished an 8-lap run, his fastest lap being 1.31, and getting up to 46 laps. He pitted, went straight back out, and instantly set a 1.30.4, only 3 seconds behind Barrichello. This pushed them up to 8th in today’s standings. Unfortunately, by 15:00, most of the teams were either practicing pit stops or testing race preparations. While many cars went out at the end for a final run, they were nowhere near the pace they needed, so it was a frustrating end to the day for everyone. Barrcihello’s earlier lap of 1.27.145 was the fastest of the day, followed by Petrov, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, De la Rosa, di Resta, Glock, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Buemi and Kovalainen. Barrichello set the most laps, with 98, while de la Rosa only got in 8 in the morning. Barrichello’s fastest lap meant that 6 different teams have topped the timesheets in as many testing days. This is very good news for this season, even if most of it was in the wet.

The predicted floods never arrived, but it was close to it in the morning. The good news is, better conditions are forecast for tomorrow.

Update: Virgin have released a video of their day in Jerez. Clearly they had nothing better to do while it was wet :P (extreme Virgin joke reference possibility!)

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.27.145 98
2. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.27.828 +0.683 56
3. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.28.162 +1.017 70
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.28.515 +1.370 71
5. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.28.879 +1.734 92
6. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.29.691 +2.546 8
7. P. di Resta Force India VJM03 1.30.344 +3.199 33
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

T. Glock

V. Liuzzi

L. Hamilton

S. Buemi

H. Kovalainen

Virgin

F. India

McLaren

T.Rosso

Lotus

VR-01

VJM03

MP4-25

STR5

T127

1.30.476

1.30.666

1.31.633

1.32.678

1.33.554

+3.331

+3.521

+4.488

+5.533

+6.409

72

24

57

57

30

Pictures from today’s test:

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

Heavier car “like a bus”: Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has spoken about the effects of driving a car which is fully leaden with fuel, because of the refuelling ban.

He claimed that the difference between low and heavy fuel loads were “like a Lotus Elise and a bus!” He said:

“When it’s full of fuel everything’s lazier – the steering, the brakes, changing direction. It was very hard to drive it in the wet with a full fuel load.”

“It will be more challenging for the teams and the drivers – and good for the show.”

“It’s a drastic change. The drivers will have to take care of their cars more this year. There will have to be more communication between the driver and team. But I like having more things to handle like that.”

This year, we will see a huge variant in driving across the race. Tyres, brakes and engines will now have to be managed differently now, because of the lack of refuelling.

Force India’s design director, Mark Smith, said that the teams will have to use harder brake materials this year, to cope with the higher pressure of having to stop a heavier car throughout the race. However, it will be difficult, as maximum brake sizes remain the same as last year.

10th February: Testing results

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets today, in a rain-soaked session.

The Mercedes driver clocked in a fastest lap of 1:20.927, which was set in the morning, before the rain came out. Timo Glock was the only driver who was completely caught out by this, and could only set 5 laps, at a point where the track was at its wettest. His time was a 1:38.734.

Sebastien Buemi was second fastest (1:21.031), followed by Nico Hulkenberg for Williams (1:22.243). The other drivers, in order, were Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Mark Webber, and Glock.

Mark Webber was the first to bring out the red flags, when he stopped out on track half an hour after the session had started at 9 in the morning. It was described as a “simple component failure”, which later turned out to be an oil leak. However, the fault meant that the engine had to be changed, which stopped him running until 4.45 pm. Then, he only got 3 laps after that, when Rosberg stopped out on track, bringing out the red falgs and ending the session.

Nico Rosberg attributed his fastest lap to a better seating position in the car:

“The car felt very good today,” he said. “Compared to Valencia where I was sitting too low which affected my visibility and the set-up wasn’t perfect, today I felt really comfortable and I could push so it was an enjoyable day and a good start to the test for me.”

The times are as follows:

Driver Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.927 57
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.21.031 +0.104 84
3. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.243 +1.136 118
4. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.22.895 +1.968 88
5. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C25 1.23.287 +2.360 55
6. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.24.947 +4.020 68
7. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.24.968 +4.041 71
8.

9.

10.

V. Petrov

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.25.440

1.26.502

1.38.734

+4.513

+5.575

+17.807

27

50

5

Pictures from the test:

Force India VJM03 launched

The Force India 2010 car, to be called the VJM03, has been launched online today.

The team has said that this year’s car is an evolution of last year’s car, the VJM02. That car was superb in low-downforce conditions, but hugely struggled everywhere else. This year’s car is hoped to be much better in medium and high-downforce circuits.

Force India are to continue using Mercedes engines, widely considered the best engines on the grid last year. Their driver line-up has also been unaffected, with the team electing to stick with Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Paul di Resta will be the reserve driver, and will take part in Friday practice sessions with the team. This widens speculation that he will be hires as a race driver for 2011.

The car was fired up earlier today. It will make its first public debut tomorrow, when Adrian Sutil drives the car at the second of the main F1 tests, in Jerez. The car’s designer, Mark Smith, said:

“The VJM03 is definitely an evolution of the VJM02 in terms of the design philosophies we have developed at Force India over the last year. We are very happy with the direction, therefore we have opted to evolve the car rather than significantly revise.”

“Obviously one of the major aspects we have had to contend with are regulation changes which have had a considerable impact on some aspects of the design of the car. The removal of refuelling from races increases the amount of fuel needed to be stored in the cars – almost twice the amount we ran in 2009. There is a compromise now: either make the car much longer or wider, or, as we have done, a combination of both. This of course has influenced the mechanical design solutions and also the aerodynamics, specifically with respects to the diffuser and bodywork.”

“Even with the ban of double diffusers for 2011, we recognise that we still have to push as much as we possibly can in this area in 2010 as we have targets to meet and the double diffuser is a key development aspect of the car.”

“The VJM02 was a relatively low drag car that showed well on the low downforce tracks. As was demonstrated throughout 2009, that was a useful attribute but as we go into 2010 we have tried to maintain a high level of aerodynamic efficiency, but we recognise that our championship position will be enhanced by a general level of performance that is suited to all types of circuits. We have, we believe, quite an efficient car overall.”

The livery is almost exactly the same, except the sides of the rear wing are now green. A bit lazy, in my opinion, but it’s still nice paint work. The car features a much wider wheelbase, mostly made at the back, for the larger fuel tank. The shark fin engine cover has been revised, the engine intake is lower and further forward, and the nosecone is higher. However, the team is not sporting last year’s Reb Bull horned nose design. The front wing actually looks much simpler, with bigger and less main sections, and oddly plain endplates.

They were right: it is definitely only an evolution rather than a revolution. The real question is whether they have solved their downforce problems. We should get a good indicator tomorrow at the Jerez test.

Force India have released interviews with Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer:

Adrian Sutil, driver

2009 was a transitional year for the team, and you scored your best result in F1 to date. How would you sum up this year?
2009 was a really important year. I was very close to scoring points in a lot of races and, frustratingly, something always happened. So when we got to Monza, it was a pretty perfect weekend. I scored my first front row, my first points since 2007 and it gave me a lot of extra confidence. I was very happy when the success came and it was for sure a big moment in my career, the turning point. It’s really different to start from the front row and race at the front and I feel it has helped me to grow. I know I need to follow it up this year now.

How do you feel going into this year?
I hope we will have a good season and I am pretty confident we will. We have had a good winter and a very good development programme so expectations are high. The car looks great, we did a positive step with the wind tunnel simulations but let’s test and see where we are. I know we need to perform well and from my side I have tried to be perfectly prepared.

What will your aims be this year, how do you intend to build on last year?
2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about going well. When you start a season you always want it to be better than the previous one and I think this year it’s important to be consistent from the first race. It’s the first time we have been completely on schedule so I feel this will be the first season when I can show from the beginning to the end what is possible on the car and what I can do. I’d like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.

This is now your fourth season with the Silverstone-based team. What does this stability mean for you?
I feel really good in the team, it’s like family for me as they know me very well, they know how I work and my strengths and weaknesses. With that kind of relationship they can really get the things that suit me and I have confidence in them to do it. At the end of last season I felt very good and it was hard to find a better option for 2010. Over the past four years we have of course seen many different changes but when Vijay took over in 2007 it was a step in the right direction. He’s committed to go for it and he has his goals. Right now we’re looking really good, we’ve sorted out all the issues and this winter has been a consistent working situation so it’s a big advantage. It’s nice to be one of the few teams who have stability now and can just focus on the racing.

The competition is very tough this year, with new teams and more world champions in the field than in previous years. What are your thoughts on this?
The competition of course will be really tough with four world champions in the field now – of course Lewis and Jenson in McLaren, Fernando in the Ferrari and now Michael back in Mercedes. I have a lot of respect for all of them and I’m actually really excited about being on the same grid, but at the end of the day they are your competitors. You can’t hold them up as heroes or goals – when we’re racing they are people you need to beat. If you do go well against them it will really lift you so I’m looking forward to seeing how I do.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, driver

It’s finally a chance to get a full race season under your belt for the first time since 2007. What are your thoughts on this?
After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.

How would you review your five races in 2009? What did you learn?
It was a great opportunity to learn the tracks and then get back to the rhythm of a F1 car. I was a bit disappointed with some races, but we knew that the car would suit Monza much better than the other types of circuit. We had a bit of bad luck as well, like qualifying in Brazil when I aquaplaned off. Although it was difficult to score points, it was important for me to show that when the car is performing well I am ready to bring the results in and I’m always the same, fast competitive driver I’ve always been. It was a good warm up for 2010.

Do you feel this time round as a racer you’re approaching it differently?
In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together. Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I’ve built a good strong relationship with them. I feel like I’m in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I’m a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality. It’s a different Tonio and I’m looking forward to what can come. I’m still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.

Do you feel confident in the VJM03?
I have to say that the team, looking at what we did last year, has done a fantastic job. They never stopped working on the 2009 car to push right to the end, but have been flat out for 2010 as well. I am really confident in the work they have done over the winter and we’ve built a car that can regularly be in the points. That’s also my aim, plus to be more consistent and competitive throughout the whole season.

With the new teams coming in, Force India won’t be the smallest team on the grid any more. Is this an advantage?
Yes, this is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do. I think it will be a good season for us.

Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer

You’ve been with the team for nearly four months now. What impressions have you gained?
I like the atmosphere in the team. With half the people of a big team we design a good car and the wind tunnel guys do a very good job in getting the numbers that are required. You just don’t have the time or resources available to waste, so you just get on with the job.

When you joined the team was in a very stable situation, and was enjoying some success on the track. Has that helped to make things very straightforward for you?
I think stability does produce results. That’s not to say you shouldn’t change and improve as clearly you should, but huge upheavals never help. If you can have stability with the right people pulling in the same direction, you’re much better off. Fortunately we have that here.

What improvements are already underway?
There are two big improvements from 2009. One has been the increase in our CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] resource, thanks to a new partnership with CRL in India, which has increased our capacity by five-fold. The other principal area has been the utilisation of the wind tunnel to a greater extent, almost 24 -7. Coupled together this has allowed us to take great steps forward. Last year Simon Roberts also instilled some very good processes and procedures that have also helped to refine our procedures, communications within the company and ultimately the decision making process. Simon did a great job in doing that, and I’m going to carry that forward.

Like Red Bull you missed the Valencia test, and instead you are shaking down the new car at Silverstone. What was the thinking behind that?
It was a strategic decision. By missing the first test, we can gain a little bit more development time – a little bit longer in the tunnel, a little bit longer thinking about what’s important on the car. It was just a trade-off decision. We completed a shakedown day, before the testing started that regains a little bit of what we’ve lost.

This year there is a Resource Restriction Agreement taking shape – how does that affect Force India?
There’s a step down in personnel allowed at races this year, as well as on external expenditure, but neither affect us at all. If we change nothing this year, we’ll be below both of the levels set whereas some other teams will have to come down. It is very much to our advantage as we are not having to learn any new skills or working operations procedures.

What are the big challenges that the team faces over the next year or two?
Our biggest challenge is to get the wind tunnel up to 24-7, and becoming efficient with our CFD capacity. For you to maximise your performance there are a thousand little things that you need to get right. This year the racing is going to be a bit different, with no refuelling, and it’s always good to have more money so you can do more development throughout the year!

You mentioned the changes in race strategy this year. Do you think that the team could gain from being quick on its feet and making the right calls?
Yes, especially early on in the year when people haven’t quite settled down yet. I think in F1 we’re all quick to learn, and quick to learn from each other. If we can make some good calls early on, that will help us.

You have kept the same drivers. What do they bring to the team?
Adrian is a great asset. He’s very talented, and he’s fast and fearless, and he’ll gain from the experience he now has. If Tonio can learn from last year, and his confidence is up knowing that he’s got a regular seat now, he has great potential.

Finally you have signed Paul di Resta as third driver. How do you see his role?
He’s a young driver with a lot of potential, and we’re going to work with him to maximise that potential. And that should be to the benefit of this team. He can help us in simulator testing, and he should be doing some Friday testing just to get familiar with the car and hone his skills. And then we’ll see about the future.

Pictures of the new VJM03 (helmet photos included):

Di Resta closing in on Force India drive (includes interview video)

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Current DTM driver, Paul Di Resta, says that he is currently closing in on a contract as a test driver for Force India for this season.

He has driven a Force India before, in the young driver test last December, and impressed with getting 2nd fastest laps in 2 days out of 3. Regarding this test, Di Resta was happy, saying:

“Yeah. We had a very difficult year in the DTM last year. It did not get off to the best start but then, during the year, we started talking to Force India. And thankfully they gave me an opportunity to go down to Jerez and do three half days in the car.”

“It was a big opportunity and something I have waited a long time to do, to get a serious chance to drive the car, and it was very productive. We came out very strong and also moved forward and built a relationship with Force India.”

He is currently in negotiations with Vijay Mallya and the Force India team regarding a test driver contract for this year. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi have already locked out the race seats. He stated:

“Things are moving along quite strong. Since the test for sure we have been in talks, and I would say we are about 90 per cent there. We are in the final stages of finishing off for the programme they have set and hopefully we can build a very long and strong relationship for me to try and race with Force India in the future.”

Di Resta also added that he may not be able to compete in DTM in the future with Merceedes, having spent 3 years with the team.

A full interview with Paul Di Resta, at the Autosport International, is available here:

Force India retain Sutil and Liuzzi for 2010

Force India have announced that they have retained Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi for the 2010 season. The team believes that this will give consistency in their driver line-up.

2010 will be Sutil’s fourth season in F1. He started in 2006 with Force India’s predecessors, Midland, as a test/reserve driver. He then went to a race seat with Spyker for 2007.

“2010 will be my fourth consecutive year with the team,” said Sutil. “I feel good here, it feels like family, and when you feel at ease you can focus your energy 100 percent on getting it right on track. Next season I want to be in the points on a regular basis, maybe even challenging for the podium, and the team has exactly the same goals. We are going massively in the right direction so with our combined energies I’m confident we can achieve even more than last season.”

Tonio has kept his seat since his move up from test driver in Monza this year, when Giancarlo Fisichella moved to Ferrari. He had made his debut in 2005 for Red Bull, and moved to Toro Rosso for 2006 and 2007.  He then moved to being test driver for Force India for 2008.

Tonio said, “It was always my goal to be back racing in 2010 and I’ve finally achieved it. I feel the five races I did in 2009 were a bit of a warm-up; get back racing, learn the car, get the feeling back. Now I’ve done that I feel ready to really push next season. We were pretty strong in the last part of the 2009 season so if we pick up where we stopped I think we could be in for a good year. For sure points are the aim and showing everyone what we can do.”

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal of Force India, stated, “We are very pleased to retain the services of both Adrian and Tonio for another season. We have always maintained that consistency is key at this stage in the team’s development and for the first time in many years we will have the continuity of not only the same drivers, but also the same engine and senior management. With this stability now in place I truly believe we have an excellent platform to build on and move forward on our strong 2009 performance. I am sure we have one of the most dynamic line-ups on the grid and I hope this will stand us in good stead in what we all hope will be a transitional year for the team.”

However, the role of third driver has not been announced yet. Next week, Force India will hold a young driver test, featuring Paul di Resta and current Indy Lights champion JR Hildebrand. The test will be three days long, and will be held on the Jerez circuit starting next Tuesday.

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