Vitantonio Liuzzi says the 2010 Formula 1 season will be a 'new start' for him as he prepares to make his full return to top level competition with Force India following two years on the sidelines.
The Italian has started 44 F1 races since making his debut for Red Bull Racing in 2005, but hasn't completed a whole season since he parted company with Scuderia Toro Rosso at the end of 2007.
Since then, Liuzzi persevered as test driver for the Force India F1 team before being promoted to race driver for the final five races of the season when Giancarlo Fisichella's defected to Ferrari.
Solid performances in those events, most notably his impressive turn at Monza when he qualified seventh and ran inside the points before retiring, have since been rewarded with a full-time position alongside Adrian Sutil for the 2010 season.
Five years on from making his F1 debut, Liuzzi says he feels comfortable in his surroundings at Force India, maintaining that he is a different racer from when he last competed full-time.
“In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together. Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I've built a good strong relationship with them. I feel like I'm in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past.
“This year is a new start for me. I'm a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality. It's a different Tonio and I'm looking forward to what can come. I'm still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.”
Having made its debut in its current guise in 2008, Force India made substantial gains during 2009, claiming a first pole position and podium in the hands of Fisichella, while Sutil challenged for points towards the end of the season.
Raising their expectations for 2010 as a result, Liuzzi believes the influx of new teams, which will operate on a similar or smaller budget to Force India, will give the more experienced outfit an edge over much of the competition.
“This is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do. I think it will be a good season for us.”
Liuzzi will have his first test in the VJM03 at Jerez this week.