Vitantonio Liuzzi is convinced he will be on the pace right away when he returns to Formula 1 action at this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. The Italian driver has been named to replace Giancarlo Fisichella at the Force India team, after the Roman was confirmed at Ferrari to partner Kimi Raikkonen in the remaining races of the season.
Liuzzi has not raced an F1 car since 2007, and has only tested this year's machine on a proper circuit briefly several months ago. But the 28-year-old conceded he is not worried about lacking pace at Monza this weekend, and he feels he will be up to speed quickly.
"I think I'm ready to jump in the car because I kept myself really fit, and the work we've been doing is helping me a lot to keep me sharp," said Liuzzi. "Monza will be perfect because it's a good from a physical approach. Singapore would have been tougher, because I don't know the circuit, and everyone complained last year that it was very physical.
"The speed doesn't concern me, I think we'll be straight away close to the pace. I'm more than fit than ever."
He added: "Monza is one of the most historic races of the entire championship, and it's in Italy. The vibe that is in Monza is great, and when I won there in F3000 in 2004 it was an unbelievable feeling. You just need to see the surroundings of the circuit. In the end you are in a forest, and you are driving at 200mph in the middle of the trees.
"The park makes it really special. When you walk around and see the old banking it's really nice – you really feel the history there."
Although Liuzzi said he has felt very much a part of the team over the past two years, the Italian admitted he was missing racing.
"I feel very much involved with the team and with the improvements we made," he said. "A lot of the developments have been made with the wind tunnel and I'm very happy that the team is moving forward and we are doing a great job. For sure in Spa it was a bit of a dream for us to be on pole position! But it's been a difficult year because it's been my second year as a third driver.
"I think I'm born for racing, and in the end it's difficult to watch the races on TV. But inside myself I was pretty confident that I'd be back in a race seat soon, and it kept me motivated for the future. I was ready to jump in the car whenever I was needed."