- Tonio Liuzzi's exclusive column
A weekend to forget
It was definitely a weekend to forget for us. Things started to go bad in qualifying and went even worse in the race.
I actually got a very good start off the grid and made up three or four places in the first few corners, but when I came up to the first big stop at turn six, my brakes were below temperature and the rear of the car snapped out. When the brakes are cold it is very easy to do that and unfortunately I took out Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastian Buemi as well. Of course, I apologised to them and explained what had happened.
We actually changed the brakes on the car on Friday after we had some problems with our original ones. A change in brake material means you have to treat them in a completely different way, either by putting more heat into them or less. We knew at the time they would be more difficult to get up to the right temperature, but we didn't expect anything like the problem we had on Sunday.
Basically it comes down to the formation lap, which is so slow compared to race conditions that you really have to work hard to get enough temperature into the brakes. In a Formula One car you want your brakes to be somewhere between 500°C and 600°C, and if they're not it becomes very difficult to drive. In Shanghai, turn one doesn't really involve any braking so the temperatures are still dropping all the way through to turn six, which is where I had my accident as I tried to brake hard for the first time.
But my weekend started to go bad even before the accident. For the third time this year I got stuck in traffic during qualifying and that ruined my lap. We really need to look at the problem of slow cars holding others up, because in the past the stewards used to be quite vigilant about this. This year they seem to let it go a lot more but it is like the referee's decision in football, you cannot argue with it. Maybe in the next few races I will put police lights on my car, because it seems every time I go out in qualifying nobody sees me coming in their mirrors.
We've got 24 cars going round in Q1 now, so you can imagine in places like Monaco it's going to be a complete mess. For the most part the problem is with the HRTs, Virgins and Lotuses because they are so much slower it is difficult for them to handle the traffic. But many times I have got stuck behind a Williams and I think there is no excuse for that. There is no quick fix to this problem but I think drivers need to use the mirrors more and the stewards need to clamp down on those that don't. For sure, me and my team will look at why it keeps happening to us and we will do that starting at the next race.
Right now we are facing a bit of a different problem because we are stuck in China due to the volcanic ash over Europe. It is really up in the air at the moment because we might get back tomorrow or we might have to wait a few days. I'm with my team-mates Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta and it's not too bad because we can do an extended debrief and talk with our engineers. But the earlier we can get home the better for everybody.
Fortunately the next race is in three weeks' time not two, so we have a little bit more leeway than there could have been. I don't think anybody is seriously worrying that we won't get to Spain in time; the concern is more about testing the car at the factory and adding updates. All the mechanics are stuck in China too, so they can't do the kind of work they would do on the car if they were back at base. After a race they take the whole thing apart and put it back together again to check everything is working, so we need to make sure we have enough time for that.
Traditionally Spain is a race where everyone brings updates to the car and we at Force India are looking to work on the bodywork at the front end of the car. But we are aware that everybody else will be working hard too and that the order can change a lot in three weeks. We are confident we can improve and we are still targeting our main rivals Renault, especially after they had such a good race in China.
I'm sure we'll be back on form in Barcelona, it's a track we know very well and we went very fast there in winter testing compared to the other teams. So assuming nobody around us makes a huge step forward, we can be pretty strong and fight for points again. That is all I am focusing on now.