Vitantonio Liuzzi was handed a five-place grid penalty for the next race after Italian Grand Prix stewards reprimanded the HRT driver for causing the first corner accident at the Italian Grand Prix this afternoon.
The Italian lost control of his car down the start/finish straight and slid across the grass on the inside of the track into the cars as they were heading around the first corner. He collided side-on with Vitaly Petrov who in turn was pushed into Nico Rosberg. The race ended for all three drivers and others cars were forced to pit at the end of that opening lap for repairs to damaged bodywork.
“I had a good start getting past both Virgins, Lotuses and Daniel but then I went for another overtaking manoeuvre and got closed out,” Liuzzi recalls. “That put me into the grass and once I was there I tried to slow down but completely lost control of the car and unfortunately hit other cars. I am really sorry for Petrov, Rosberg and the other drivers who were forced to retire because of this. Now it's over but we are fighters and we have to look ahead to the next race”.
HRT‘s woes were compounded when Daniel Ricciardo‘s car stalled on the grid. After eighteen minutes of frantic work by the mechanics, the Australian rookie could eventually rejoin the track, but finished the race fourteen laps behind the leaders and was not classified.
“The race started as bad as it could, for some reason the car went into anti-stall, jammed in third gear and then the engine switched off,” explained Ricciardo. “I couldn't get restarted and had to get the car back into the box. The mechanics got it going again and I was back on track but the engine temperature rose and they called me back to check it and it took us a few more minutes until we could rejoin the race.
“I went straight into a bit of traffic which made it hard to get a bit of rhythm. But at least in the second stint at the end of the race I was able to get in quite a few good laps and we got some data out of that. A little bit is better than nothing but I need to keep pushing for a better result in Singapore”.
Team boss Colin Kolles confirmed that the team were very disappointed with their afternoon in Italy, and is hoping that things improve when they head to south-east Asia in a fortnights time.
“This was a weekend to forget after losing both cars before the first corner of the first lap,” said Kolles. “The mechanics managed to fire up the car and Ricciardo completed 39 laps. We knew that Monza would be difficult but everything was set up for a satisfying race. It is a pity for both our drivers, but let´s look ahead to a much better weekend in Singapore”.