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F1 grid complete as Hispania confirm Tonio Liuzzi
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F1 grid complete as Hispania confirm Tonio Liuzzi
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Mar 2011   |  2:40 pm GMT  |  31 comments

The final piece in the driving jigsaw for the 2011 season fell into place today as Hispania announced Tonio Liuzzi as its second driver alongside Narain Karthikeyan. It’s good that the team has gone for someone with speed and experience, rather than opt for a pay driver as they were forced to do last season, with Sakon Yamamoto.


Liuzzi has raced for team principal Colin Kolles before and although his record in F1 is rather mixed, he undoubtedly has speed and an ability to get results. It’s just stringing results together consistently that he’s not managed to do in F1.

He has started 63 Grands Prix with three different teams; Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Force India, with whom he drove last season. Although he had a contract for 2011 he was eased out in favour of Paul di Resta.

His best result is a pair of sixth places, including last year in Korea, which was his strongest performance of the year. Ironically Kartikeyan has had a better result – a 4th place – but it was achieved in the notorious six car US Grand Prix of 2005 in Indianapolis.

“I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories,” said Kolles. “He is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the Team. I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in the past having contributed to a large extend developing and moving a back grid car to the front.”

Hispania has yet to unveil its new car, that will happen on Friday lunchtime in Barcelona, meaning that the team has just a day and a half of testing at the most before shipping it to Melbourne for the first race. This is a little better than last year when the car ran for the first time during the opening weekend and one of the HRTs only ran for qualifying.

As i posted last year in Bahrain, there are many pitfalls to racing an untested car. One thing which will help them this year is the Williams gearbox and back end, which they have purchased and which is integrated with the Cosworth. This should boost performance and reliability. Another headache is the return of the 107% qualifying rule this year, which will mean that the HRT cars will have to be within around 5.8 seconds of the pole sitter to qualify.

Here’s a reminder of the first steps the team will take.

Cooling is the first thing to check. A car which overheats will not get far. However the general rule in F1 is that a car which cools really well is a slow car. Designers want to shrink wrap the bodywork over the car to get the best aerodynamics, so in a really quick car, the bodywork is often no more than 5mm away from the radiators.

Water temperatures typically run to 140 degrees, which is possible because the system is pressurized, while oil temperatures of 115 degrees are acceptable. If the oil gets any hotter than that it loses its lubricating properties and causes damage.

After the cooling has been verified, the engineers will begin the difficult process of learning about the tyres. Compared to last year they have the advantage of having tested the Pirellis on their old car, so the engineers will have a sense of the dynamics. Nevertheless, it will take HRT several Grand Prix weekends to learn how to set the car up, to get the load evenly balanced across all four tyres and get the correct balance between aero and tyre temperatures.

There aren’t too many short cuts here and even very experienced teams can get it wrong. This is a problem Brawn engineered into their car in the second half of the 2009 season, for example.

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31 Comments
  1. Henry says:

    Understanding the tyres and the car’s set up was illustrated as being vital last year by HRT. After the mid point of the season, they stopped attempting to develop the car altogether, yet improved on pace and reliability measurably (ended above virgin who were theoretically developing!) over the second half! Set-up is amazingly important. A driver that can manage set-up to make the car easy to driver is invaluable…good luck to liuzzi in the season, I hope he makes it further than being chucked out of the race after P3 due to the 107% rule!

  2. Silverstone79 says:

    James, is it this years Williams gearbox or have they bought 2010 tech ?

    Given that this new gearbox is one of this years “radical” developements, do you think that the low line rear end advantage it enables might be lost on an HRT ?

    1. James Allen says:

      2010, as I understand it. This years’ is ‘out there’ !

      1. Silverstone79 says:

        I certainly wouldn’t want to be the one to drive an HRT where the rear suspension attaches to the rear wing support -well not the first one anyway !!

      2. Jamie says:

        I thought that it was this years Williams gearbox? In interviews Kolles was going on about having a similar rear end to the Williams.

        Does this mean that the Red Bull hydraulics/gearbox that Team Lotus are using is from 2010 or will it be 2011′s? Unless RBR haven’t changed it from last year…

      3. efBir says:

        No no, I remember reading it. Sam Michael told HRT will be using 2010-spec gearbox.

      4. unoc vII says:

        Lotus is using RBR’s 2009 gearbox.

        The 2011 is only for RBR.
        The 2010 is made for the double diffuser setup and hence is more bulky than the 2009.
        The 2009 is made for a single diffuser setup and hence is tighter than the 2010 while being more tested and finished than the 2011 product.

  3. PaulL says:

    My tip is he’ll be sacked by year’s end.

  4. Aaron95 says:

    I wish them luck, but I suspect that missing all this testing time is gong to cost them dear. The other “new teams” have managed to produce cars and get mileage on them. Last season I can understand as they rushed to get the car built in a very short time, but why is it HRT are so behind this season?

  5. Richie says:

    I get the impression that your quick run-down on how to run the the first day test of an F1 car is for their benefit rather than ours. :-)

  6. F430-FOX says:

    I honestly think that HRT getting a car ready to race for the season opener is the most impressive technical achievement of the entire field so far.

    Many have doubted (including myself) they would be around at all in 2011. Now they even hired one experienced driver and managed to buy into competitive technology (Williams rear end).

    I think Colin Kolles must have Wizard-like qualities to pull all of this off! He may not be the most popular person in the paddock but he can definitely deliver.

  7. James says:

    James, have you heard any word from Cosworth about how they feel their return to F1 has gone?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think they are quite pleased. They have had good reliability and in the Williams at least, some decent results in the second half of last season.

  8. F1_Dave says:

    if i were making these decisions at hrt i would have gone for christian klien over liuzzi.

    when they were both at red bull in 2005 klien was faster than liuzzi and since he was with hrt last year he knows the team.

  9. Mr Anderson says:

    Fantastic appointment, I’m so pleased HRT have appointed a “proper” F1 driver, rather than a pay driver for their second seat. Tonio now has another chance to prove what he’s made of. He’ll be in a battle with the Virgin cars, and of course with Narain. I think this is a case of the right person being in the right job. Good luck to him.

  10. Sossoliso says:

    As I understand it, the 107% rule can be overridden by Charlie Whitting. He can use his c=discretion to let a Team race even if they fall foul to the rule?

    1. James Allen says:

      They have to have been solidly on the pace in practice

    2. unoc vII says:

      THe only time people will fall foul is if there is something wrong, the rule states

      ‘within 107% of the fastest time set in in Q1′ NOT ‘within 107% of pole’.

      And since RBR, Ferrari, McLaren etc… all generally cruise around in Q1 on hard tyres and with the engine not turned up the fastest times are never set in Q1.

      HRT et al will be compared to 107% of RBR driving slowly, and as such it will be hard for them to be out.

  11. Davexxx says:

    After the fuel tank debacle last year I hope they remember to put narrower mud flaps on the narrower front tyres… ;-)

    1. mvi says:

      Wasn’t it Virgin that had the fuel tank debacle?

  12. For Sure says:

    Tonio Liuzzi is a go-kart world champion and he beat Schumacher at Kerpen. I don’t understand why he never made a good impression as opposed to other top karters like Vettle, Alonso, Kimi, Lewis and Schumacher etc..

    1. James Allen says:

      What about other top karters like Pantano, Magnussen, Verstappen?

      1. kkrodd says:

        What about them, James?

      2. unoc vII says:

        While F1 cars are like Karts, they are much more advanced and drive quite differently when on the limit.

        Throttle and braking is more an issue in F1 cars compared to Karts while steering is the same – I believe htat is the right way around.

        ANd then there is aero.

        A great karter doesn’t equal a great F1 driver.

        While many top karters become top f1 drivers, many are more specialised at Karting and can’t adapt to F1 aswell.

        You can see it in other forms aswell. Loeb is brilliant Rally driver but wouldn’t be beating everyone aswell in an F1 car. Kimi visa versa.

  13. TFLB says:

    You say that the Hispania drivers would have to be within 107% of the pole sitter to qualify. However, my understanding was that it was 107% of the fastest time in Q1. Am I mistaken?

  14. Nilesh says:

    James,

    Any idea if there was a settlement between Liuzzi and FI for the breach of contract?

    1. James Allen says:

      There was a settlement. But my enquiries indicated that FI are not paying Hispania to take him off their hands, if that’s what you mean

  15. Terry Shepherd says:

    James, just a comment: when I was developing a racing bike using Mobil One, I was concerned when the oil temp ran in the mid-120s. However, the boffins at Mobil assured me that they regularly saw race car oil running as high as 160 degrees, without loss of lube properties.

    A beneficial aspect of high oil temps, of course, is that as long as the oil film doesn’t break down, there is less friction through shear.

    I believe Mobil supply McLaren with their lubricants….

  16. Olivier says:

    Didn’t HRT do promotional Pirelli filming work with their new car?!

  17. Alexis says:

    Sounds like he’s just given his payoff from Force India straight to Hispania to me!

  18. Rich C says:

    Glad to see him get another chance, even if it is HRT. We tend to forget that it only looks slow compared to other F1 cars. Its still a screaming fast piece of high tech machinery!

    On a side note, when I win the lotto and buy half the team will I be able to make them let *me drive?

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