Vitantonio Liuzzi has shrugged off the latest rumours suggesting that he will be the odd man out when Force India announces its 2011 F1 line-up by warning the team that 'they know what they are facing' should it decide to ignore the year remaining on his contract.
Liuzzi's position has been called into question almost since he was confirmed as Adrian Sutil's team-mate on a full-time basis for 2010 - the Italian previously replaced Giancarlo Fisichella late in 2009 - and his name is missing altogether as the rumour mill suggests that new DTM champion Paul di Resta will partner Sutil in 2011, with Williams refugee Nico Hulkenberg slotting in a test and reserve pilot. The former Toro Rosso driver, however, insists that he has not been informed of any change of situation, and believes that Force India will honour the remainder of his contract.
"I was told and I read something [about the 2011 line-up] on the internet, but these rumours have been around since the half of the championship," he told 422race.com
, "A lot has been said over recent months, but I have nothing to say at the moment.
"My situation is clear. Force India hasn't informed me about any change and, for me, only the words of the team count. I'm pretty calm, because I have a very clear
deal with the team for the 2011 season and, if they should decide to take other routes, they know what they are facing."
Liuzzi was also at pains to deny that he had been offered an inducement - financial or otherwise - to walk away from the remainder of his contract, and maintained that he wanted to be in a race seat for 2011.
"I wasn't offered anything, as I said I haven't spoken to Force India about anything like that," he stressed, "For me and Force India, so far, all is still the same, in the situation that I will be driving for them. Rumours aren't important but, so far, I wasn't offered anything - neither money nor a seat in DTM, as I read elsewhere. They didn't tell me such things, for sure.
"Anyway, from now to February everything can happen. Nothing can surprise me anymore in F1 - you can never be sure, and I won't be until the first grand prix on 15 March. I'm sure of having a valid contract with them and, again, if they should decide to change route in the end, they know what they are facing."
Asked what exactly he was 'threatening' the team with should it decide to dump him, Liuzzi remained vague, but the determination to keep possession of the second Force India was clear, even though he hints at approaches from other teams.
"Should they decide to take other routes, for sure I won't be just saying good evening or good night and retire," he noted, "I have a contract to race and I want to race. I
waited two years as a third driver so, for sure, I want to stay in my seat.
"For sure, when you have a contract, you also look elsewhere [and] everybody receive offers from other teams, but I'm personally tied to Force India 100 per cent, so I wasn't interested so much. I have a clear situation with them, [and] they never told me anything different. Instead, they always supported my position in the driving seat for 2011, so I heard but never started any negotiation."
Should di Resta and Hulkenberg be confirmed in the coming days, as suggested, Liuzzi's alternative options for remaining in F1 would be limited to one of the two HRT seats - which would undoubtedly require him to bring sponsorship - or, potentially, a return to Toro Rosso, which has hinted at, but not officially confirmed, an unchanged line-up of Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari in 2011. There are suggestions that the Italian minnow has been approached by a Middle East consortium regarding a buy-out, but details remain sketchy. The same reports, which initially appeared in the Swiss media, claim that the interested buyer would be keen to retain Buemi, Switzerland's only representative in the top flight.