The Force India Formula One Team is pleased to announce Vitantonio Liuzzi will assume driving duties of car number 21 from next weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
After evaluating options following Giancarlo Fisichella's switch to the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team, Tonio has been promoted to the race seat from Monza onwards. The 28-year-old Italian has fulfilled the team's crucial test, reserve driver and development role from the start of the 2008 season.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal, commented: 'I'm delighted to give Tonio the opportunity to get back into a race seat, which I know he has been itching to do for the past two years. Force India is now in a very competitive position and we need a driver who can continue this momentum. This will be the chance for Tonio to demonstrate to both the team and the field that he has the commitment, speed and professionalism to perform and I am sure he will seize this opportunity.'
Tonio commented, 'I can't wait to get back into the car in race trim, particularly at my home Grand Prix in Monza. I really appreciate the opportunity Vijay has given me, particularly now Force India has a great car that's performing very well. I am confident I can carry on our progress. I'm very motivated, I'm in good shape and hungry to get some more points on the board. Although it's unfortunate that this came about as an direct result of Felipe's accident, this is my opportunity to show people what I can do and I'm really looking forward to it.'
Quick Tonio facts:
- Tonio Liuzzi has been Force India's test and reserve driver since the start of the 2008 season. His last test in the VJM02 was on Thursday 3 September at Kemble airfield when he conducted an aero test with the Monza downforce configuration. - Tonio's last F1 race was the 2007 Brazilian Grand Prix with Toro Rosso. To date he has contested 39 Grands Prix, with a career-best result of sixth coming in the rain-lashed 2007 Chinese Grand Prix. - Tonio made his F1 debut in 2005 at the San Marino Grand Prix with Red Bull Racing. He scored a point on this debut although competed in just three more races that year before making a permanent switch to Toro Rosso in 2006, where he remained for the 2007 season. - Tonio holds the joint record for the most F3000 wins in one season; seven out of a possible ten in 2004, his championship-winning year. The Italian holds the record with Juan Pablo Montoya and Nick Heidfeld. - Tonio has also held the FIA-CIK World Karting Championship title, which he won in 2001.
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