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On a wing and a prayer

Tonio Liuzzi August 1, 2011

In his latest column, Tonio Liuzzi explains his problems with his front wing during the Hungarian Grand Prix and names his top driver from the first half of the season

Tonio Liuzzi had another tough race at the Hungaroring © Sutton Images
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Once again we had a really good start to the race followed by some pretty chaotic first corners. I overtook two or three cars and was feeling positive about my chances until I exited the chicane at turn seven and felt somebody hit me from behind. That tipped me into a spin and I came to a halt in front of the barriers. It cost me a lot of time as I had to find reverse, come back onto the track and then restart about 14 seconds behind.

The car didn't seem too badly damaged, but the handling was pretty bad anyway because we were forced to start the race with a broken front wing from qualifying. A bit flew off in Q1 but I still started the race with it because it was a new specification front wing and we didn't have a spare. That made things difficult because the car really lacked balance between left and right corners and we were suffering with massive graining on the tyres.

My team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was running the old specification wing which provided a better balance than the broken one and was probably quicker over a race distance as a result. With one of the bits missing we couldn't really learn that much about the new wing and the situation wasn't helped by having a lot of fuel in the car and the changing conditions. But we are in a close fight with Virgin so we have to push to find upgrades; it's just a shame that in Hungary it turned into a bit of a nightmare.

Tonio Liuzzi ahead of his spin coming out of the chicane © Sutton Images
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In my second stint I lost another part of the front wing and we lost a huge amount of downforce at the front which resulted in a pretty big loss of lap time. At that point we were forced to change to the old spec wing and that changed the balance of the car again. So with every stint the balance of the car was changing; in the first stint we had the damage from qualifying, in the second stint we lost the second bit of the wing and in the third stint we had a completely different wing. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong!

Overall it was a really tough race and then we did the same as Lewis Hamilton and made an extra pit stop when it started to rain towards the end of the race. My team called me in for intermediates but I had to come back in after two laps when it stopped raining and that cost me some more time. Without the spin on the first lap and the stop for intermediate tyres we would have finished in the group with Daniel and Timo Glock or maybe ahead.

On the plus side, over one lap I think our pace is improving and if everything holds together we can beat the Virgins or be really close to them in qualifying. In the race they still have an advantage because we have been struggling with rear tyre wear, so we struggle to have a consistent balance and that's very important this year on the Pirelli tyres.

We now have four weeks off and I need to relax a bit with my family and friends, but for sure the focus is still on the car because this week the team is still working hard to find improvements. We are hoping to get the car in the wind tunnel for the first time so I will constantly be in touch with my guys to find out how the development is going. I will also keep focusing on my training and being as fit as possible for the next race - albeit in a sunnier place and by the sea!

A late pit stop cost Tonio Liuzzi more time © Sutton Images
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I was asked recently whether I am firming up my plans for next year yet, and for sure there have been a few talks but it is a bit too early to say anything at the moment. People have come to chat with me, but everything is good with HRT and they are happy with me, so at the moment I would say everything is normal. HRT's programme seems really interesting for the future and within the next two or three races we should know a little bit more about next year.

Looking at the championship as a whole, I think we will continue to see McLaren and Ferrari give Red Bull a hard time after the summer break. Having said that, the amount of points Sebastian Vettel has is massive and to be honest I think this year's championship is more or less decided already.

But although Vettel is leading the championship, I think Fernando Alonso has been the most impressive of the top five or six drivers this year. He is doing an amazing job with the Ferrari, has had some great races and has made very few mistakes considering how hard he has pushed. He's always making the difference and for sure we will see some great races before the end of the season between the drivers at the top teams.

Tonio Liuzzi gives his views at the end of every grand prix weekend

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Tonio Liuzzi gives his views at the end of every grand prix weekend Tonio Liuzzi has raced in Formula One since 2005, driving for Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India before landing his latest seat at HRT for 2011. He has been an ESPNF1 columnist since 2010, giving a driver's insight into every race weekend