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Home > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

Liuzzi to put pressure on Fisichella

January 17, 2008 19:45 IST


Vitantonio Liuzzi
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Force India have warned drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil that they must perform if they want to stay with the Formula One team beyond 2008.

The team, formerly Spyker, have also signed Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi as their reserve and expect him to put constant pressure on the two race drivers.

"If they need any motivation, they need only look at who the test driver is," technical head Mike Gascoyne told Reuters in an interview. "They are going to need to be performing or else there is a guy there who can obviously step in.

"He (Liuzzi) is quick, he's experienced and he wants to be a race driver.

"The message is very clear for Fisi, for both the race drivers. If they want to be driving in 2009, they have got to deliver. If not, there is a guy who will be driving it in 2009."

Liuzzi raced for Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso last year but was replaced by France's [Images] four times ChampCar champion Sebastien Bourdais.

The Italian, whose speed has never been in doubt, then had to fight Austrian Christien Klien for the testing slot with Force India.

Gascoyne said Fisichella, a race winner signed from former champions Renault just when it seemed the 35-year-old Roman might have run out of options, had been an obvious choice to partner inexperienced German Sutil.

"If you look at our driver line-up, not just with Fisi as a race driver but with Antonio as test driver, it's obviously a massive step forward over where we were last year," said Gascoyne.

"We've struggled. When your lead driver is a rookie, if he gets lost at all you are going to lose your way."

Gascoyne said Fisichella, in his tests with the team, had already found a surprising amount of speed.

"Fisi has always been a very smooth driver and I think with the elimination of traction control, it will really help him. Fisi is a guy who you have to keep interested and make sure he's motivation is there.

"But I have to say from the two tests he's done with us, he's been very, very fired up. He's been pleasantly surprised by the car and he's given us some really excellent feedback."

NEW JORDAN

Force India are the latest incarnation of Jordan, the rock'n'roll team run by colourful Irish entrepreneur Eddie Jordan who sold out to Midland in 2005.

That team was then bought by the Dutch Spyker sportscar company before again changing hands with the arrival of Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya [Images].

"I think we are (a proper Formula One team) now. Last year it was not a pleasant situation and not one we could really talk about. We had to pretend it was all okay when it blatantly wasn't," said Gascoyne of life with troubled Spyker.

"Vijay is quite a flamboyant figure, a very successful businessman, a charismatic guy, a sort of Indian Flavio (Briatore) and he wants to succeed.

"We want to be like Jordan was in 1999 -- not the biggest team but small and efficient and rocking the boat a bit," added the Briton. "Vijay was there at the Christmas party, he had Eddie and his band playing which was a very nice touch...They are very well aware of the Jordan element of the history of the team."

Spyker scored just one point last year, an improvement on Midland who drew a blank in 2006, but Force India are looking to a much improved showing.

"I think the driver choice is a clear statement of intent," said Gascoyne. "We're not taking pay drivers, we've got a budget mapped out for the year which is significantly better than what we've had in the past and it's real rather than promised.

"Everything is working well now and I think we can take a step forward.

"We want to be regularly getting through the first round of qualifying. If you've got a guy like Fisi putting it 11th to 16th, he'll bring you home some points and that has got to be the target.

"I think there are three or four teams we can target and by the middle of the year, maybe more than that."

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