Vitantonio Liuzzi gets Force India seat

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All smiles: Vitantonio Liuzzi and Force India's Ian Phillips

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been confirmed by Force India as their replacement for Giancarlo Fisichella, as tipped here last week.

Liuzzi’s confirmation means there will be three home drivers racing in this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Liuzzi made his debut for Red Bull in 2005 in an unusual seat-share deal with Christian Klien. The Italian got the lesser end of the deal, starting just four races (Klien got 15) but scored a point for eighth on his debut at Imola following the disqualification of the two BARs.

He moved up to a full-time drive with Toro Rosso in 2006, partnering American Scott Speed.

He remained at the team for 2007 but much of his season was spoiled by unreliability. In the second half of the year he was out-shone by new team mate Sebastian Vettel. Liuzzi did manage a strong sixth in the rain at Shanghai – problem was, Vettel finished fourth.

Liuzzi’s place in the team in 2008 was taken by Sebastien Bourdais. The French driver later fell out of favour and was in turn dropped earlier this year.

Liuzzi has been Force India’s third driver since 2008 and was expected to get a race seat in 2010. He last drove the VJM02 at Kemble four days ago.

His call-up gives him a precious opportunity to make a case for the team to retain him next year, particularly when there are well-funded drivers like Vitaly Petrov shopping for a seat. The team have not confirmed whether he will remain in the car for the rest of the season.

He acknowledged is return to the cockpit owed a lot to Felipe Massa’s misfortune:

Although it’s unfortunate that this came about as an direct result of Felipe’s accident, this is my opportunity to show people what I can do and I’m really looking forward to it.
Vitantonio Liuzzi

Liuzzi won the final Formula 3000 championship in 2004 and has an impressive karting CV. Big things were expected from him on his F1 debut, and some suspect his failure to deliver them is more the fault of Toro Rosso’s management than Liuzzi’s shortcomings.

Can he prove them right? How do you think he will fare alongside Adrian Sutil? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Vitantonio Liuzzi biography

Vitantonio Liuzzi’s F1 career in pictures

Images (C) Red Bull/GEPA, Force India F1 Team

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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25 comments on “Vitantonio Liuzzi gets Force India seat”

  1. No suprise, but since he was not racing when I came into the sport, I am eager to see what he can do. At least he’ll have a pretty good car to work with and be racing at home- good conditions for a debut.

  2. In the second half of the year he was out-shone by new team mate Sebastian Vettel. Liuzzi did manage a strong sixth in the rain at Shanghai – problem was, Vettel finished sixth.

    Liuzzi upped his game when Vettel came along and the pair were quite evenly matched from what I recall.

    I’m glad he’s been given another shot, this time in what looks to be a competitive enough car to show case his talent. I also reckon he’ll give Sutil a run for his money as well.

    1. StrFerrari4Ever
      7th September 2009, 21:19

      Your absolutely right this is his chance to show his capablities he was one of my favourite drivers during 06,07 his a great character and can’t wait to see him at FI.

  3. Keith, that would be a problem if Vettel also finished 6th in China! pretty sure they didn’t share sixth place! think u mean ‘Vettel finished 4th’ lol

    1. Have changed it, thanks sato!

  4. I think he’ll do ok, he’s pretty free from pressure, and the FI should be quick, hopefully we get a great race Sunday.

    1. He’ll be under similar pressure to what Badoer was. If he trundles around at the back of the field I doubt he’ll last long. Hopefully he can get some good results and secure a seat for 2010!

      1. I don’t think he’ll be under any of the pressure that Badoer was.

        Luca had to step in following Schumacher’s neck issues which had lead expectations to soar and Badoer would have been on the end of this.

        Driving for team steeped in history and glory such as Ferrari is a little different than stepping in for a minnow like Force India.

  5. Liuzzi was better overrall than Vettel in 2007. Only in Japan and China did Vettel out perform Tonio.

    1. Who’s Tonio?

      1. oops sorry i got it :)

  6. Just checking his Wikipedia page. As mentioned in the blog above, he was the final Formula 3000 champion in 2004 before it morphed into GP2. He achieved Schumacher-esque levels of domiance that year. 7 wins out of 10, and a perfect record of pole positions. He was at the front of the grid for every race start.

    Best of luck to him this weekend in front of his home crowd.

    1. Wow, I never realised that he got the whole set of pole positions in 04. There’s Little or no luck involved in that IMHO. Let’s hope that his talent has matured along with him.

      1. Tonio Liuzzi is also a mean hand at karting (CIK World Champion 2001), I think he regularly signs up for the charity kart races Massa organises annually (he had to withdraw in 2007 to shop for the FI test seat).

        He should be able to keep within 0.1s of Sutil…

  7. Good choice and a resonable driver. Hope he and force India do well.

  8. StrFerrari4Ever
    7th September 2009, 21:24

    And also he scored pole position on his first outing in A1 GP. But there was this rumour that Petrov could come in during the latter races with his $1Million a race funds to give the team.

  9. It was rumoured that he had a clause in his Force India contract that allows him to race in 2010, after serving the team for 2 years as a test driver. If it’s true, it will be easier for him to acclimatize himself for the next years challenge.
    When Vettel was brought to Toro Rosso, Tonio suddenly became more concentrated than ever before, but it was too late for him.
    Did a lot of straight line tests during the season, so drove the car unlike Badoer, and his absence was “only” 1 and a half year, not 10.

  10. Great to see him back on the grid again. Hes a great driver and a real character.

    Lets hope the Force India’s can keep on having great races for the rest of the season and Spa wasnt just a one-off!

    Looking forward to Monza! :P

  11. I don’t like him as a driver (or much as a personality for that matter) but it’ll be interesting to see how he measures up to Sutil, if Sutil got beat he can kiss his career goodbye. Adrian Sutil has everything to lose and Liuzzi has very little to lose, so we’ll see. Can’t wait to Monza though!

  12. I like his helmet

  13. Prisoner Monkeys
    8th September 2009, 1:31

    Does anybody else notice Liuzzi has a passing resemblance to Quentin Tarantino?

    1. Right you are!
      I hope he concentrates on driving an F1 car and not trying to look like a blinged out rapper, crooked cap & all. Although I guess a little personality doesn’t hurt. :-)

  14. lewisisoverated
    8th September 2009, 2:56

    i love the south park drawing of himself on the helmet!!

  15. Sorry to be really sad – Is it just me or does Tonio look like Peter Andre in the title picure!!!!!

  16. I was hoping to see Tonio back in F1 in another car.I hope he continues the drive this year and can retain the seat for next year.I too believe Toro Rosso management was the main cause for the poor performances of Liuzzi and Scott Speed……or for Liuzzi anyway.

    Welcome back Tonio!

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