Although he believes Hispania Racing should have been allowed to compete in the opening round of the new F1 season at Albert Park, Tonio Liuzzi insists that the Spanish outfit will do all it can to ensure it doesn’t fall foul of the 107 per cent rule again this year.
Neither car was able to complete in Australia after the regulation was reintroduced for the new season, with the last minute preparations from the team not being enough to get the cars into the race.
While it came as little surprise to see the two cars well off the pace, Liuzzi said he would have preferred to have been given permission to compete in order to put much needed mileage on the F111, although he accepted that the rules have been put in place for a reason.
“Not knowing the car at all before qualifying, I wasn't too optimistic about getting into the race and getting within 107% of the fastest time in Q1,” he wrote in his column for ESPNF1. “But looking at the lap time we managed with just eleven laps, I think we can be positive for the future.
“Of course it seems a bit unfair for the team that we didn't race after getting the car out to Australia, and we asked for a bit of common sense to see if we could get some more mileage on the car in the race. In F1 it's all professional drivers and I don't see a big problem with having cars lapping at over 107% as long as everyone is sensible when it comes to lapping. The difference in budgets between F1 teams is huge so it's normal to see this kind of difference on track between the leaders and the slower cars at the start of the season.
“But the rules are the rules and, while we would obviously have preferred things to be different, we accepted the decision of the stewards - we just have to make sure it doesn't happen again.”
While he admits the Sepang won’t be the best circuit for the team, Liuzzi added that he was hoping to see an improved performance from Hispania as it introduces a series of new parts onto the car.
“We paid the consequence of being late from the beginning, so now for Malaysia we should be fully ready for our first race of the season,” he said. “I think things will be different there but, unfortunately, if I was to say at the beginning of the year which track would be worst for the 107% rule I would have said Malaysia because of its characteristics. Even so, I still think we can show improvement compared to Australia and good pace compared to Virgin.
“Virgin is a realistic target, although before the start of the season our ultimate target was for tenth place in the championship by the end of the year. It's true that Lotus didn't look that strong in Australia, but the first race is always difficult for everybody so we will have to see how they go in Malaysia before we set our sights too high. Most of all we are focused on our own performance.
“We will have lots of new parts on the car, the proper front nose and wing, some better rear dampers - we have a lot of things to change for Malaysia, so I think we will be in much better shape.”