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GP Week : 13-Oct-2009
in the career of some drivers," he confides. "I think in my career I have always been a fighter and I never gave up and we always showed big speed potential." That speed was given what should have been a great place to shine when Red Bull bought the former Minardi squad, turning it into Toro Rosso at the end of 2005. Tonio was the perfect driver for the team's first season and was partnered with GP2 hotshot Scott Speed. But the Red Bull philosophy back in 2006, particularly at Toro Rosso, was one of Hollywood A List, glitz and parties. It was a life Liuzzi and Speed played up to. But it was to give them both reputations as party boys rather than serious racers. Liuzzi scored just one point in 2006. Speed scored none. By the middle of 2007, the relationship between Speed and Toro Rosso was at its lowest point and after the German Grand Prix, team boss Franz Tost reportedly punched the American. Speed was out. A young German named Sebastian Vettel was in. Vettel had scored points in his debut with BMW earlier in the season and over the latter half of the season outscored Liuzzi by five points to three at Toro Rosso. In the clear light of day that is all people now remember, despite the fact that these points came at the same race in China, one race weekend after the young German had taken the sister Red Bull car of Mark Webber out of the Japanese Grand Prix and had his position in the sport seriously questioned by his future team-mate. Actually when one looks back at the Liuzzi/Vettel partnership the two were very closely matched, with Liuzzi just edging him in the stats. The Italian out- qualified Vettel 4:3 and made up 14 positions on his starting position to Vettel's 13 over their seven races as team- mates. The impression that many have of Vettel wiping the floor with Liuzzi is thus a falsity. Indeed, with Vettel now fighting for the World Championship, their relative parity as team-mates begs the question of just how good Liuzzi might well be. "This is what I mean," Liuzzi agrees. "Sometimes people see what they want to see, but you know, myself I'm really happy because I know what I can do. It's just that you need to get the chance of showing it. At the moment I have to thank Mr Vijay Mallya who has given me the chance to do it and is giving me this opportunity to race with a strong team because at the moment we have become a strong group. For sure it's not an easy thing to come back and in just five races put some good results together, but we'll try hard." Those five races are down to just two now. After that stunning Monza showing Tonio has suffered from two mistakes out of his hands in qualifying at Singapore (incorrect wing levels) and Japan (botched tyre pressures), but has come out fighting both times. In both Singapore and Suzuka, Liuzzi was one of the few drivers to both attempt and pull off successful overtaking moves. "Formula 1 is always an exam. Every race. It's not just about one race which is more important than another. I always have to perform at the maximum and try to show what I can do. Now we have two occasions left to do that. Monza was really unlucky because of the driveshaft situation because we could have had a good 24