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GP Week : Issue 41
> F1NEWS> Liuzzi in at Force India? RUMOURS that Tonio Liuzzi will make a return to Formula 1 race action this season at the wheel of one of the Force India cars took another step forward last week as the Italian made his debut in the A1GP series. Liuzzi’s sudden and unexpected debut in the championship marked his first competitive single-seater outing since the end of the 2007 F1 season and saw the Italian immediately on the pace in an unfamiliar car and on an unfamiliar circuit. He took pole position for the sprint race at the Portimao track in the Algarve, Portugal, at his first attempt, sealing the first ever pole position for Team Italy in the process. Liuzzi missed out on a podium in that sprint race after a slow pitstop from Team Italy and was set for a podium in the second race until Team USA’s Marco Andretti collided with Liuzzi, taking them and Team Monaco’s Clivio Piccione out on the spot. “We were really motivated to show how we could run up front, the car was running well but the ending has been really unfortunate,”he confirmed. “We’ll be coming to Brands Hatch with a lot of experience and we hope to be even more competitive than here at Portimao.” It is believed that Liuzzi has a clause in his contract that will hand him a race seat with Force India in 2010, however his sudden move back into single-seater competition has given renewed vigour to the rumours that he will replace either Virgin Wins! FORMULA 1’s newest sponsor scooped the most airtime at the opening race of the 2009 season, according to recently released statistics collated by brand awareness specialists Margaux Matrix. As the only visible sponsor logos other than the team’s own decal and the compulsory Bridgestone stickers on the all-conquering BrawnGP cars 10 of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, Virgin hit the number one position with a total on-screen presence of almost nine minutes, just ahead of Toyota F1’s title sponsor Panasonic and Red Bull. Virgin may have been the most televised brand during the Australian Grand Prix, but its figures of on-screen time Adrian Sutil or countryman Giancarlo Fisichella before the end of the 2009 season should either driver fail to meet the expectations of Force India owner and Team Principal Vijay Mallya. With a Formula 1 testing ban in place, racing in A1GP is seen by many as the perfect way for the Italian to get back up to race fitness in preparation for a potential return to F1. Airtime – Australian GP Top 10, 2008 # Brand 1 Vodafone 5 Mobil 1 6 Red Bull 7 Boss 8 BMW 9 Intel 10 AT&T Time 2 Mercedes Benz 09:10s 3 Bridgestone 4 RBS 16:47s 06:38s 06:14s 05:38s 05:02s 05:00s 04:35s 04:30s 04:19s are half those achieved by Vodafone in the same event in 2008 – a clear sign that while Richard Branson’s company has had an immediate impact on F1 sponsorship, his decals do perhaps need to be better positioned if he and his brand are to recoup the maximum reward for their involvement. While Virgin was the most successful new brand to enter Top 10, 2009 # Brand 1 Virgin 2 Panasonic 3 Red Bull 4 Alpinestars 8 Bridgestone 9 RBS 10 Ferrari Time 08:47s 08:16s 07:59s 07:28s 5 “Marlboro Blank” 07:19s 6 Toyota 7 Brawn 06:38s 05:54s 05:45s 04:47s 04:43s Formula 1 in the opening race of 2009, the biggest leap in visibility was made by racewear and clothing company Alpinestars, which had a 1-2-3 on the podium and jumped up a massive 56 positions on its presence at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix to sit fourth with just under seven and a half minutes of on- screen time.