Tonio Liuzzi hasn't raced in Formula 1 since the end of the 2007 season but, with Giancarlo Fisichella moving across to Ferrari for the remaining races of this year, he has been promoted from his role as Force India's reserve driver. Here he talks about his forthcoming F1 return at Monza, Force India's upturn in form and his own chances of earning himself a race seat in 2010.
Q. Do you see this as an opportunity to stake your claim for a drive next year?
Tonio Liuzzi: Yes, definitely. Monza is a good opportunity for me to show what I can do, and also the rest of season. It will be a really good motivation for me. Monza would be my preferred circuit to start with and fortunately Vijay [Mallya] has given me the chance to get back into a car at this time.
I think it will be really important for me to show a good performance. My position in the team has grown up a lot in this last year and a half, and I have worked really hard to help the development of the car. I think I am in a strong position for the future, for sure.
Q. Is there extra pressure on you because of Force India's improved form?
TL: The aim of the weekend for me won't be that easy because I have been one and a half years not racing in Formula 1. Personally, I don't think that the good results will make a big problem for me. The second place Giancarlo [Fisichella] had at Spa will make everything little bit tougher because now the aim is bigger for rest of season, but I like this kind of situation – I don't like to have an easy job to do, it gives me good motivation.
Q. Does what happened to Luca Badoer worry you?
TL: No, not really. He was in a very different position because he didn't race for 10 years. Force India gave me the opportunity in 2008 to do a lot of mileage - I had more than 15 test days and I was up to speed until November last year. That's a much shorter period of dead time and that makes me feel much more confident.
Q. Can you do at Monza what Fisichella did at Spa?
TL: For Giancarlo it would have been very difficult to repeat the Spa result at Monza. Spa was a very special condition for Giancarlo and the team. Even with the great step we have in development, we didn't expect a podium.
But the car is especially competitive at fast circuits and I think it will be really competitive at Monza. The only question is to see how much the cars with KERS can have, because we can see that it will make a big difference for them at a circuit like Monza.
Q. Do you see Monza just as a learning race, to take time to get up to speed?
TL: I have a pretty high motivation to do well, I won't take it just as an acclimatization. I want to finish the race well and score points, so I won't be taking it easy at all – there will be a full push from my side. The team deserves to score more points in this moment of the year, everyone has worked very hard and made a great step in development and they deserve for the team to keep scoring points.
Q. Is Monza, which is about braking and riding curbs, a good circuit to be starting back at?
TL: Yes, it will be a softer comeback than some other tracks. Physically it is not that tough. Even though I feel fit and ready, it will be a softer restart of my race position. It will be a lot about braking, and we know the kerbs have been changed so maybe this will be different from past years. If they are much higher than maybe we can not use them so much.
Q. How difficult is it to replace a driver with the experience of Fisichella in a team. Do you and Adrian have the experience to work as well on the set-up?
TL: I think so. I have worked with Giancarlo for one and a half years and in that time I learned from him. He has great experience and feedback about the car, and I think I can be at a similar level. In testing we have been together and giving pretty similar feedback so I don't feel much pressure from that side. After Giancarlo's second place at Spa it won't be an easy position to take, but I am really confident that I can do a good job.
Q. What will it be like to return to F1 at your home race, in front of your home crowd?
TL: It is the greatest thing that could happen for me to start again in front of my home crowd. It's a great motivation and the big support from my country makes things so special. My first debut in Formula 1 was also in Italy – at Imola in 2005 – and I scored points, so maybe it is a lucky combination for me.