- Tonio Liuzzi's ESPNF1 column
Racing blindTonio Liuzzi October 11, 2011
Ahead of the race on Sunday I'd completed just six timed laps and that meant I started the race pretty much blind. We didn't test the tyres for degradation, I hadn't tried the soft compound until qualifying, and I didn't have a chance to modify the balance to my liking. Basically you don't know anything about how the car will handle in that situation, and even though you can roughly base your setup on your team-mate, everyone has a different style and that's why it was so difficult in the race.
In fact on Sunday the issue was not speed but tyre wear, and my biggest problem was that after seven laps my rear tyres were completely worn out and gone. I was losing a lot of pace on every stint after seven or eight laps, but because of the lack of laps on Friday we struggled massively.
At the pit stops we tried changing the setup to make the rear tyres last longer, but it wasn't enough and the rear was a big problem every time. Even when we dialled in some understeer with the setup, the rear tyres were still the biggest weakness. It also didn't help that on the first lap I lost a bit of the front wing after a bit of contact. At the time the team didn't think it was going to be a big issue, but at the end of the race they realised that the loss of downforce was actually pretty big.
It was a big shame because at the start of the stints we had some good pace and for the first few laps of the race we were able to keep up with the Virgins and my team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. But at around seven or eight laps it was like a switch and we just lost the rear tyres.
Of course, I wasn't in the car on Friday morning when Narain Karthikeyan got some more running ahead of his return in India, and that definitely hurt my setup in the end. But at this stage of the season we are not fighting for points and I completely accept the decision of the team on these matters.
Looking forward to next year, we have a few good possibilities for the 2012 car so that should make things really interesting. After the change in ownership maybe we stepped back a bit in development on the 2011 car, but now there are a few things and a few programmes for the future that are really interesting. The result of that is that we won't get any more developments between now and the end of the season on the 2011 car, but if things move forward the way the team is planning we could have an interesting 2012.
On a separate note, I'd like to congratulate Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull on their second world championship at the weekend. This year it was even clearer that they had a very good pace from the beginning. Last year they had a really strong car, and this year it's been even stronger compared to its competitors. I think this year, both Sebastian and the team didn't make any mistakes, they have been perfect and that's why they won the title with four races to go. Last year they had more problems, but this year they have cut out mistakes and they've maintained, maybe improved, the advantage in pace over the other cars.
There's been some talk that Sebastian can now match Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles. I think Adrian Newey can build another fantastic car for next season, but maybe it will be different when we have the next big rule change in 2014. I think seven world titles with the current level of competitiveness in the sport would be really difficult for anybody, but the car is the crucial tool and I'm sure Red Bull have got the potential to win many championships. But seven is a very big achievement, indeed.
Tonio Liuzzi gives his views at the end of every grand prix weekend