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My belief has been vindicated: Liuzzi

April 03, 2010 16:10 IST

He has picked up points in back-to-back races after being on the sidelines in the first two seasons and Force India's Italian driver Vitantonio Liuzzi says it proves that he is fast enough for the elite league.

In 2007, Liuzzi drove for Toro Rosso after which he was relegated to the test driver's seat with Force India in 2008-09, and Liuzzi said the two years were tough as he always believed that he is born for racing.

"It has been a really tough time, believe me. My career has been up and down. Watching others race from the sidelines was not an enjoyable feeling at all because I always saw myself as a racer not a tester. But it gave me lot of hunger and taught me a lot of things, made me mentally tough," Liuzzi said.

"I wanted to be back as early as possible. Earlier, I knew I was fast but I wanted to show the world that I have the speed and I think I have proved it in Bahrain and Australia," he said.

Liuzzi, who replaced fellow Italian Giancarlo Fisichella after he left Force India for Ferrari last season, secured seven points for his team in the first two races of the season, finishing ninth in the season opener in Bahrain and seventh last weekend in Australia.

The 28-year-old from La Pescara in Italy thanked Force India owner Vijay Mallya for showing faith in him and said he would do whatever it takes to hold on to his seat with the Silverstone-based outfit.

"Two top-10 finishes and points on the board in two races, the start has been perfect for me. I am hoping to continue the same form in the upcoming races. I thank Vijay for giving me the chance. I am a firm believer in my capabilities. When Vijay gave me the chance I didn't want to lose the opportunity and I think my belief has been vindicated," Liuzzi said.

"In Formula One, there is only possibility of 20 drivers, now it is 24 with two new teams. So, I want to keep my seat with Force India for a long time.

"My dream is to win the World Championship once and to achieve it, I will do whatever I need to do," he added.

Asked whether he expected things to be so smooth when he replaced Fisichella late last year, Liuzzi said, "Force India were doing great when Fisichella left for Ferrari. I was a test driver so it was a big step forward for me and a challenge when I was asked to take his seat.

"But I was ready for it and the team showed faith in me. I knew I had to settle I in fast. I knew I would be competitive but to be honest I didn't expect such a great start."

Despite not making the Q3 cut in Bahrain and Melbourne, Liuzzi finished among the points and he said even though there is scope for improvement, qualifiying races don't freak him out.

"With a bit of luck for sure I can improve in qualifying. With our speed I think we deserve 9-10 positions in qualifiers but 11-12 is not that bad. But to be honest good positions in qualifying is not something that freaks me out," he said.

Interestingly, like every Italian boy Liuzzi aspired to be a footballer but fell in love with motorsports in his first encounter.

"I wanted to be a footballer. I was a born in La Pescara in central Italy, and everyone knows Italians have soccer in their blood. I looked upto (Diego) Maradona and as a kid I wanted to be like him. I played soccer for 11 years from the age of three to 14 till a friend of mine introduced me to go-karting. I fell in love with racing in the first sight and forgot everything, that was it," said Liuzzi, who idolises the most successful British Formula One driver Nigel Mansel besides late Ayrton Senna and seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher.

Asked about his camaraderie with team-mate Adrian Sutil, he said, "We both are competitive and fast. We both push each other to the limit and it is a good thing for the team. But we are always careful not to destroy each other's chances."

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