Since Daniel Ricciardo has joined HRT, he and his team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi have both seen the finish line at 5 races. Of those, Liuzzi was only in front in Silverstone, his young team mate’s first Formula One race. After that, the Australian has beaten the Italian each time.
While at first Liuzzi was able to take the better starting position thanks to faster qualification laps, this trend also has turner in favour of the Red Bull junior driver. This not only shows that Ricciardo is a fast learner and his performances in lower series are no coincidence. It also shows that Liuzzi is definitely past his prime, and maybe also his time.
Some may argue that it has been the case for some time now, at the latest when he lost his Force India drive to Paul Di Resta. But the severance money he got for letting go a his 2011 contract allowed him to buy himself this year’s HRT car.
His problem will be that the Force India money was spent for the current season and his results don’t help him claiming a drive on performance alone (if such was even available at the Spanish team, which I doubt). Even if Colin Kolles, HRT’s team manager, seems to have a rather high opinion of his driver, that won’t suffice to keep him in the car.
The new HRT owners have already stated several times that they want to have a Spanish driver on board, so Jaime Alguersuari would be a prime candidate should he lose his Toro Rosso gig. And GP2 racer Dani Clos is also on the list, at the latest for 2013.
No money and not enough performance is a combination that doesn’t bode well for a future in Formula 1. My guess would be we will see Liuzzi driving in Le Mans in 2012. Arrivederci Tonio, you had fun but now it’s over.