How much longer does Liuzzi have left?

Liuzzi has struggled to match team mate Sutil in 2010

Liuzzi has struggled to match team mate Sutil in 2010

Vitantonio Liuzzi’s full-time return to Formula 1 has not gone well so far this year.

He’s been off the pace of team mate Adrian Sutil in qualifying and the races.

Will Force India persist with Liuzzi until the end of the season – or will they draft reserve driver Paul di Resta in before the year is out?

Sunday’s race was the latest in a string of poor results for Liuzzi. He says he is struggling to get to grips with the 2010 tyres:

Basically we had the same problem as Barcelona ?ǣ there?s a lack of grip overall. We cannot put load on the rear tyres. I struggle as if the tyres were cold.

We were a bit more optimistic after Monaco because even if the problem had not been solved completely, we found a way to go around the issue.

But Istanbul is a proper track with a lot of high speed, medium speed and low speed, so you need to find a compromise. And in fact we were struggling like in Barcelona.
Vitantonio Liuzzi

He is 6-1 down against Sutil in qualifying and without Vitaly Petrov’s crash in Monaco the score would probably read 7-0. But it’s the scale of Sutil’s advantage that will be most worrying Liuzzi:

Race Liuzzi’s gap to Sutil*
Bahrain +0.657
Australia +0.697
Malaysia +1.34 (wet)
China +0.49
Spain +0.869
Monaco -0.257
Turkey +1.007

His average deficit to his team mate in dry qualifying is over half a second – more than any other driver bar Vitaly Petrov and Lucas di Grassi, who are both rookies with experienced team mates.

His race pace has been off by a similar amount – have a look at his form here.

This kind of gap might be acceptable if Liuzzi was a rookie or if he was up against a driver of Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso’s calibre. But Monaco was his 50th Grand Prix and, with all due respect to Sutil, he is not thought of as one of F1’s elite.

Force India are a team on the fringes of the top ten and Liuzzi’s shortfall in performance to Sutil is keeping them from having both cars in the points regularly.

The team may consider that, if they’re going to have one driver that far behind the other, it might as well be a rookie who they could expect to make a faster rate of progress.

The team has Paul di Resta waiting in the wings and have already put the Mercedes-backed DTM driver in the car in several Friday practice sessions this year.

Is Liuzzi’s second crack at Formula 1 about to come to an end? Should Force India give him longer to prove he can get up to speed – or take a gamble on di Resta? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Vitantonio Liuzzi 2010 form guide

*For each qualifying session the drivers? lap times were compared in the final phase of qualifying where both cars competed.

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93 comments on How much longer does Liuzzi have left?

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  1. Nathan Bradley said on 2nd June 2010, 8:44

    This is an interesting one Keith.

    On the one hand, I can see Paul Di Resta pushing for a drive, and his performances in practice and DTM will have done his case no harm at all.

    On the other hand, I, like Eddie Jordan, can see problems changing a team line-up halfway through the sesaon, as I believe it can unsettle the team.

    One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be Vijay Mallya and the Force India higher-ups having to make this very tough decision.


    • Ned Flanders said on 2nd June 2010, 10:02

      I don’t think it is that tough really. I can’t see Liuzzi lasting much longer. This is his third different shot at F1, and what has he done to justify his position? A 6th place at China 07 (completely overshadowed by Vettel)? Running well at Monza 09 before retiring? That’s about it.

      Di Resta, on the other hand, looks like the next big thing. He has a great record against Vettel in the junior series and a fair bit of F1 experience with Force India. I think the only real downside is that he has been racing touring cars instead of single seaters for years now. I don’t understand why Mercedes didn’t fund a GP2 season for him

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 10:12

        This is his third different shot at F1

        I would say second, that Red Bull driver rotation thing in 2005 was a joke, he only got four starts.

        But even so, two chances is more than most drivers get.

        I don’t understand why Mercedes didn’t fund a GP2 season for him

        Same here. I really don’t see the value in three years of DTM. Didn’t do much for Christijan Albers, did it?

      • Scribe said on 2nd June 2010, 11:15

        It’s the Vettel thing that confuses me most, here is a man who beat Vettle by 16 points, in the same team. He’s 24 and an incredibly exciting prospect. Why he hasn’t been funded in GP2 or given an F1 drive yet. I really don’t know, it boggles the mind.

        Liuzzi can’t last long, if I was Mallaya, I’d have certainly have given him the drive for 2010, but he wouldn’t be in my cars for than another 3 races if this continues.

        • Carole said on 2nd June 2010, 11:20

          It was 11 points, btw, (sorry, I’m really bad at leaving facts uncorrected, I’m not having a dig)… but yeah, I’m not amused with Merc for not having helped Paul more, agree with you there

    • MigueLP said on 2nd June 2010, 12:01

      LIUZZI pays his drive so hes going to stay

    • M0tion said on 2nd June 2010, 12:51

      I agree with Nathan. I do think he will be under pressure but I thought he was running the F duct in Turkey and on the same basis as many others that Force India knew he was going to be slower. Liuzzi despite his big recent mistake was generally more consistent (certainly started the season that way this year) and he definitely didn’t get much of a chance at the erratic Torro Rosso.

  2. Jonathan said on 2nd June 2010, 8:57

    “Will Force India persist with Liuzzi until the end of the season – or will they draft reserve driver Paul di Resta in before the year is out?”

    The latter, I should think. Paul di Resta looks really promising.

  3. MouseNightshirt said on 2nd June 2010, 9:01

    I think Liuzzi’s time is short. I’ve been doing a countdown in my own head for a while now.

    As you rightly point out, the deficit is too large for someone of his relative experience, I think it’s high time he moved on.

    Paul di Resta is a fine choice, but how about having Nick Heidfelt? Not a rocket by any means, but he’d provide stability for development and a good marker to finally judge Sutil against.

    • graigchq said on 2nd June 2010, 9:14

      yep -Heidfeld is probably faster than the whole back half of the grid.. and would be pushing Sutil on a much more level playing ground than Liuzzi does

    • sumedh said on 2nd June 2010, 9:52

      Excellent suggestion.

      Heidfeld will help us (and Force India) gauge Adrian Sutil against a fully competent F1 driver too.

    • steph said on 2nd June 2010, 10:13

      I’d love Heidfeld back but I just don’t see it happening. He hung out for the Merc seat because he thought for once this would be a step up and he wouldn’t be stuck in the midfield. In the end it didn’t work out but at least he tried. FI would be a step backwards to some extent but if he’s really beginning to get the pine for F1 then he could come back but I don’t see it with FI esp not when Paul is there and Nick’s career is running out of time.

    • Ned Flanders said on 2nd June 2010, 10:43

      Ooh, another Nick Heidfeld debate!

      Let me just say that if Nick Heidfeld got back into F1 with Force India he would definitely win championship. And now some idiot can come in with a similarily moronic statment about how Heidfeld is actually the worst driver in F1 history…

      • Mike said on 2nd June 2010, 10:52

        I doubt Heidfeld would go to Force India, It just doesn’t seem like an attractive team, sure they are probably the most improved team in the last few years, but for the Force India higher ups, the driver’s seem to be rather expendable, Sutil is for them, a great driver who is only getting better, but I remember recently an interview with Mallya where he basically said, if I can get someone I think is better, good bye. I doubt Heidfeld would find that attractive.

        • Scribe said on 2nd June 2010, 11:24

          Well Mike I don’t know about that, Sutils been with the team for three years, an longer if you count previous incarnations. Fisi only left because he wanted to. Liuzzi has been given a second chance. An Sutil’s seat is no longer really under threat, the gripes from last year haven’t really appeared an he seems if anything to be outdriving the car, a second faster than your teamate is a hugeley impressive margin. Although I wonder if he might make a bid for a Renault drive next season.

          There’s no way in hell Heidfeld would go to Force India, I just don’t see that ever happening. An again, why would Force India known above average driver Nick Heidfeld, when they have a driver that beat Vettle in the same machinery on their books?

        • David A said on 2nd June 2010, 16:30

          “It just doesn’t seem like an attractive team, sure they are probably the most improved team in the last few years”

          Nah, Red Bull just about get it for me.

    • RandomChimp said on 2nd June 2010, 12:31

      Nick not a rocket?! He ranks among the best!

      • JBolton said on 2nd June 2010, 13:57

        Heidfeld has had his chance, I don’t see the value in bringing him in as a race driver. He would certainly be a useful reserve driver though, because of his wealth of experience.

        I would give Liuzzi a few more races. You have to consider the mind management, it’s no use making him think each race could be his last. He needs to be told the truth if he is to get the best out of himself. So Force India should say “Liuzzi, you have three races to show what you’ve got. If you don’t get closer to Sutil then you’ll be out”.

        Then he can go to Virgin and replace di Grassi.

        • nik said on 2nd June 2010, 16:35

          it would be completely unfair on the other drivers if Heidfeld was allowed to return to F1, since he would win every race (he would probably take every podium position). There would also be a problem with traffic since he would lap the entire field every lap.

          At least, that is what I know about Heidfeld from reading the Internet.

          • US_Peter said on 2nd June 2010, 18:20

            Everything on the internet is true. Even the contradictions that couldn’t be true. That stuff is true too.

  4. Giuseppe said on 2nd June 2010, 9:02

    Shame about his recent performances, i just don’t think he has the talent. Quick Nick would be good for Force India

  5. Howard said on 2nd June 2010, 9:06

    personally i think he’s better at playing Micky McQuire in Shamless on Channel 4, than driving a F1 car.

    • KateDerby said on 3rd June 2010, 22:01

      “playing Micky McQuire in Shamless on Channel 4″

      – Glad someone else noticed that! Dead ringer.

      Give the guy the rest of the season. In Turkey he was back to being a test driver, running the experimental f-duct.

  6. Cristian said on 2nd June 2010, 9:07

    I would keep him until half season. Unless he has an exceptional race till then, I would put the younger driver in the cockpit in order to prepare him for next season.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 9:15

      So, two more races and have di Resta in the cockpit for Silverstone?

      • Alex White said on 2nd June 2010, 9:38

        I’m all for at least one Scot on the grid :D

        • Christian said on 2nd June 2010, 10:29

          And a third Brit. We might start catching up with the number of German drivers on the grid! :D

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 10:37

            Goes to show how times have changed! It used to be there were loads more British and Italian drivers. And French, for that matter.

          • HounslowBusGarage said on 2nd June 2010, 23:33

            @ Keith and every other F1 egghead. I’ve asked this question before in another thread: has there ever been an F1 Grand Prix wthout a British driver taking part?

          • Just Me said on 3rd June 2010, 19:17

            In Indy 2005 no Brit started the race (but Button and Coulthard qualified 3rd and 16th).

  7. Tango said on 2nd June 2010, 9:24

    Let’s hope it’s partly down to Sutil being little better than we would want to give him credit for. However, “for sure”, Luizzi has to up his game.

  8. I know everyone is desperate to see di Resta in F1, but is there any guarantee that he would be better than Liuzzi? It’s worth noting that every driver who came into F1 mid-season in 2009 performed worse than the driver they replaced.

    I would wait until 2011, give him a proper pre-season testing programme and give him a fair chance at making an impression on F1.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 9:37

      But with so little testing allowed now is it really worth it? Di Resta already did much of the young driver testing allocation Force India had at the end of last season.

      Even if Di Resta comes in and only does as well as Liuzzi, but shows he is able to develop more quickly, that would be a step forward for them.

      I take your point about changing drivers mid-season but remember a lot of those were at Toro Rosso who are basically just blooding drivers for Red Bull.

      • Dan Garcia said on 2nd June 2010, 11:29

        I am not sure that the ban on in season testing is such a big point in PDR’s case. We have used this argument when discussing a rookie who has not even driven an F1 car before like Jaime Alguersuari. PDR has been testing on a Friday since the beginning of the season, except for a couple like Monaco. He should have experience of setting up the car and the pressure that surrounds a race weekend.

        I do agree with someone in the comments below that says the British GP may be too much pressure. The counter argument is that there will always be pressure in F1 and it is, in general, a sink or swim formula. I think PDR will be in a win-win situation if his debut is at Silverstone. If he performs well then great, if he doesn’t – it is only his first race.

        • George said on 2nd June 2010, 18:26

          I read that whole comment thinking you were talking about de la Rosa, there’s one argument for Di Resta to stay in DTM :P

          • Dan Garcia said on 2nd June 2010, 18:36

            Cheers George. Just shows that shortening everything has real downsides. Maybe we should only allow one set of initials to be used in F1. That’s one good reason for Bordais leaving – apart from the fact that he wasn’t up to scratch. Buemi has the initials to himself

          • Manatcna said on 2nd June 2010, 22:52

            Isn’t it DLR for Pedro?

      • Rob said on 4th June 2010, 4:15

        He should sign up for Hamilton Seniors F1 testing programme. He could drive around in last year’s Force India or McLaren and get all the practice he needs on top of the Friday practice sessions.

    • steph said on 2nd June 2010, 10:10

      This hasn’t been Liuzzi’s first shot at F1. He has experience and although he’s been out of the game a while he still should be closer in my opinion. Alg at least seems to have made a step forward this year while Liuzzi just hasn’t.

      There’s never a guarantee but this could be a good chance. Testing is so limited and he has been in touring cars a while that perhaps it would just be better to get him in a race seat this year, get him the mileage and work on his relationship with the team so that next year he is in a better position.

      • sw6569 said on 2nd June 2010, 10:19

        Liuzzi has never had an F1 seat without it being messed about – Red Bull switching with Klien, being forced out of the torro rosso team, then half a season last year and now lots of rumours about Force India and Di Resta.

        Its difficult. Partly its his performance. But surely thats acceptable when you’re never given a proper chance?
        Partly its that he’s terrible at F1 politics.
        Partly, i’d say his manager is at fault too. I think he should have signed some form of testing agreement with Ferarri – as an Italian, fresh out of F3000 he was seriously hot property

      • True Steph, but Alguersuari was lucky that he got another chance in 2010 after a difficult half-season at STR (he wasn’t confirmed in the team until the very last minute). Look at Grosjean, who struggled with Renault and didn’t get another chance.

        If Force India are fickle enough to drop Liuzzi mid-season to make way for di Resta, what’s to stop them deciding after half a year Paul isn’t good enough and replacing him for 2011? I’d far rather see di Resta properly prepared for F1 over the winter and given a decent chance to perform.

        • Mike said on 2nd June 2010, 10:56

          I hate getting rid of drivers so soon, If they had got rid of Alg, it would only be one giant slap in the face to all rookies.

          Having said that, Liuzzi isn’t quite as green as Alg was is he? I won’t say that they should get rid of him, but considering his performance and Di Resta’s potential, I wouldn’t be surprised if Liuzzi gets the boot.

        • steph said on 2nd June 2010, 18:35

          Yes Alg was lucky to get that chance but it proves (I think anyway) how vital mileage is. Liuzzi has been messed around in the past and although he’s been good, he’s never been stellar when push comes to shove.

          I agree that if FI drop Liuzzi mid-season it could set a bad precendent for Paul (if he is indeed the next driver) but I think given the limited testing that if Liuzzi isn’t getting anyway give Pasul the seat and time and then next season see how he does. I don’t think Paul is ready for a race seat but with the current limits I just don’t see how testing will be enough either. In an ideal world, Liuzzi would keep the seat for now while we watch how Paul does in testing and compare but that isn’t an optino anymore.

          The main thing this is showing again and again for me though is the affects of such limited testing when it comes to the new boys. Surely there has to be another solution?

        • Force India’s predecesors have generally only dropped drivers when severely provoked (either by extreme underperformance – real or perceived – or forgetting to bring their “lunch money”). So far, Force India has tended towards keeping on drivers despite doubts from outside – and having that confidence justified.

          Therefore, I believe Liuzzi has until the end of the season unless his contract says he has longer (I don’t think it does). If he’s still not with Sutil, then it’s almost certainly the end of his F1 career full stop. Otherwise, we could be looking at this thread in Abu Dhabi and wondering what all the fuss was about.

  9. PJA said on 2nd June 2010, 9:43

    When Force India announced that Di Resta would be driving during Friday Practice this season I thought the signal it sent out was that one of the race drivers would not last the season if they did not perform.

    It is always a risk changing the driver line-up mid season especially with the limited testing available now. If the incoming driver doesn’t do well it can easily be the end of their career, such as Grosjean, whereas with a proper pre-season they might do better.

    If Liuzzi doesn’t up his game soon I wouldn’t be surprised if he is replaced by Di Resta.

  10. SijS said on 2nd June 2010, 9:55

    Liuzzi should go, he isn’t fast enough for F1. VJM has used up a lot of resources and now has a car that could fetch him some points. He would like to make full use of it, but Liuzzi just isn’t helping his cause. Moreover Paul could get some Scottish F1 fan following for FI, which would be good for their sponsors W&M.

  11. Journeyer said on 2nd June 2010, 10:03

    I’m guessing di Resta already has a guaranteed race seat with FIF1 for 2011. The only question for Vijay and co. is, do they move up his debut GP? Assuming that a 2011 deal is in place, I would give di Resta the seat by Silverstone.

    Not all midseason replacements are lost causes. Case in point: Jaime Alguersuari. He used 2009 to get into the groove of things. In 2010, he’s done much better, finishing every race, outracing Buemi in every race bar one, and outscoring Buemi 3 to 1. It didn’t quite work out that way for Liuzzi, but I don’t see why di Resta can’t follow Alguersuari’s example – or even better it.

  12. sw6569 said on 2nd June 2010, 10:05

    Liuzzi for me is the new Magnussen. Domination in the lower tier, brilliance up until F1. Flashes of brilliance now and then, but even as a Liuzzi fan, i’m aware his time is running out.

    Personally I blame red bull and their ridiculous driver management scheme. They had Liuzzi at his peak and threw his talent away. Its a shame.

    Di Resta looks great and Sutil has really started to perform well. With them both in the team, I reckon a victory of some sort might be possible around Monza or Spa.

    • OEL said on 2nd June 2010, 12:15

      Do you really think Force India will keep their straight line advantage in Monza and Spe which made them so quick there last year? So far this year they haven’t been quick in the speed traps, because they have added downforce and automaticly a bit of drag. Also, McLarens F-duct is working very well, and I don’t think Force India will catch them.

      Also, Ithink Sutil is very underrated. Saying Liuzzi should be fired is like saying the same about Massa after Spain. Both are having serious problems with too hard tyres. Give both some time.

  13. Renzo said on 2nd June 2010, 10:24

    they must give back the seat to Fisi! :)

    • If they can prise him from Ferrari, I would be pleased about that. However, given that Fisico now has three sportscar races (Le Mans, Utah and Silverstone) which clash with various F1 races, I can’t see Force India making the attempt. Perhaps this is as well because what would be the chances of Ferrari lending its reserve driver to a team powered by its biggest rival?

  14. Keir said on 2nd June 2010, 10:30

    I seem to remember Liuzzi starting the season strongly, and scoring points in the first two races, while Sutil scored nothing. People are so quick to forget!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd June 2010, 10:35

      People are so quick to forget…

      …facts such as Sutil being eliminated in a first-corner collision in Bahrain and having an engine failure in Australia. Both of which while he was ahead of Liuzzi on the track.

  15. Liuzzi’s race in Turkey must have been one of the most anonymous races in recent times – I had to check at the end of the race to see if I hadn’t missed him retiring.

    • M0tion said on 5th June 2010, 5:36

      Like I said earlier I am sure he had an F duct taking time out of his car and Sutil wasn’t running it. Turkey is a bad one to bring up. I am still not convinced Sutil can keep his nose out of trouble enough across a season so he is not the one to pair a rookie with IMHO. Heidfeld or even Fisi would be better if they had to move on Liuzzi mid season especially, and if they wait to the end of the year they can have a better record of but I wouldn’t make that call yet if I were in their shoes.

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