An outstanding drive from Vitantonio Liuzzi
produced sixth position in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix
and a further eight points to aid Force India
F1 in its constructors' championship battle with Williams.
Although the result owed a little to the sort of luck that Liuzzi has been lacking this season - with both Williams
cars suffering late problems - the Italian drove a controlled race from 17th on the grid in the ever-evolving conditions. Moving up eleven positions, he secured his first points finish since the Belgian Grand Prix, which was also run in wet conditions, although nowhere near as bad as those in Korea, which saw the Yeongam track drenched throughout the morning.
After several delays, including a lengthy red flag thrown after just three laps, the race was eventually restarted under the safety car as visibility and track conditions were deemed too poor for racing. It was certainly not the last time the pace car would be deployed, and Liuzzi was able to benefit from the final such period to pit for intermediate tyres.
He then moved into the top ten and, despite heavy tyre wear in the closing stages, he was able to take advantage of the problems that befell Nico Hulkenberg
and Rubens Barrichello
to secure sixth position, his highest finish since the Canadian Grand Prix.
"What a crazy race today, a bit like Australia back at the start of the year, and it was very fun to be out there," Liuzzi commented, "It was the right decision to delay the start as there was so much water on the track but, unfortunately, we had to do a lot of laps behind the safety car after that because the track was so slippery that it was really hard under braking. Then, at the end, it was like a night race without any lights and the steering wheel display was so bright it was almost dazzling!
"Even though there was so little grip, I was able to get into a good rhythm and get a great result for the team. After all the bad luck we've had in this part of the year, it's brilliant to be back in business and up there in the points again, extending our advantage over Williams
and setting ourselves up well for the last two races."
Team boss Dr Vijay Mallya admitted that he could not recall a race quite like Korea, but praised Liuzzi for his performance.
"We said it would be an interesting one and the constantly changing conditions threw up all sorts of challenges," the Indian reflected, "It was a great performance by Tonio as he kept his head and raced hard until the finish. It can't have been easy in the failing light and on a damp track on worn tyres, but he did brilliantly to secure those crucial points."
Whether the result will be enough to secure Liuzzi's seat at Force India
for another year remains to be seen. While team-mate Adrian Sutil
decides on his future, there appear to be three - or more if the Nick Heidfeld
and Mikhail Aleshin rumours are taken into the equation - drivers in the frame for two race seats, with current reserve Paul di Resta apparently at the head of the queue either to replace or partner Liuzzi in 2011.