23 February 2011
Liuzzi not prepared to pay for HRT seat
Vitantonio Liuzzi is adamant that he will not become a pay driver just to remain on the F1 grid this season.
Vitantonio Liuzzi might have been grateful for the opportunity to test with the Hispania Racing team in Barcelona at the weekend, but insists that he is not about to buy a ride at the Colin Kolles-run team to remain in F1 in 2011.
The Italian was left out in the cold after Force India decided to pair Adrian Sutil with rookie Paul di Resta this season and, despite having been listed amongst the possible replacements for the injured Robert Kubica at Lotus Renault, was never offered a run in the R31 before the seat went to the similarly unemployed Nick Heidfeld. With only the second HRT ride alongside the returning Narain Karthikeyan remaining open, Liuzzi's options - other than to return to a testing role - are limited, but he is not prepared to pay to remain on the grid this season.
"They would prefer a driver that brings money I guess, but it's not my case because I've never done it and I cannot start now," he told ESPNF1, "I bring my experience, my speed and I do my best for the team, that's for sure. [As for] the rest, I would try to help as much as I could to find sponsors, but I cannot afford to pay to be a driver. I will put my 100 per cent into the team as I always have done."
The Spanish team, which generally propped up the grid in its 2010 debut season, will be the last to reveal its 2011 contender, but has already unveiled a brash new livery courtesy of the Hollywood designer behind the reworked Tron movie. With little to base his judgement on, however, Liuzzi admits that he is prepared to keep an open mind when it comes to possibly signing a deal for the coming year.
"It depends who the team is, and on all the conditions and terms and the possibilities," he said when asked if he would put HRT over and above a testing opportunity elsewhere, "Everything is critical at the moment in F1, and a lot of things change monthly, so we will see. At the moment, nothing is decided, we're just having good talks and we'll listen in the next days to see what will happen.
"[HRT] are talking to, and looking quite good, with some sponsors, so there could be good potential to increase the budget of the team and the development of the team for sure. [Will they be] more competitive than last year? For sure. Competitive enough? I'm not sure. It's a question mark because everything is happening late, the new car is coming late and the budget is limited as well. It's all critical, but for sure they have got some interesting plans and, if they happen, it will be good."
One driver who appears unlikely to be going up against Liuzzi for the HRT seat - and the Spanish team tested long-time Kolles favourite Giorgio Mondini in Barcelona - is Virgin refugee Lucas di Grassi, who admits that a lack of budget saw him forced out of the Dinnington equipe in favour of Belgium's Jerome d'Ambrosio.
"I had a contract with Virgin, but I needed some new sponsorship," di Grassi revealed to Arena SporTV, "I could not get any, and the Belgian did. Now I'm in a phase of restructuring to get back next season."
The Brazilian has been linked to a possible development role with tyre supplier Pirelli, admits that this is more rumour than substance at present.
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