Force India team manager Andy Stevenson has some very forthright views on a couple of rival drivers after last weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix which saw the team secure a double points finish in an incident-packed race.
Speaking on Force India’s post-race podcast, Stevenson described Felipe Massa as ‘very unfair’ when he collided with Tonio Liuzzi on the opening corners of Sunday’s race, and described Robert Kubica’s cutting-up of Adrian Sutil as he entered the pits as “one of the most ridiculous moves I’ve ever seen”.
Qualifying in Canada was the team’s most successful of the season, with Liuzzi benefiting from Mark Webber’s grid penalty to start fifth, and Adrian Sutil getting ninth spot on the grid. However, incidents throughout the race meant that Force India were lucky to finish ninth and tenth and pick up three points.
Tonio Liuzzi had a disastrous start to the grand prix, colliding with Felipe Massa around the first two corners. It led to the Italian spinning off the track, and he had to pit for a new nose and a new set of tyres, dropping him to the back of the grid. The car was still damaged, and at that point, the points finish looked very unlikely.
“[Massa] was very unfair into the first corner,” was the verdict of Stevenson. “He left no room at all for Tonio, in fact actually pushed him onto the grass and all Tonio was trying to do was keep on track and go around Turns 1 and 2.
“I've only seen the incident once on the TV but it looks like Massa had another couple of bites at him as well and if you see the car it looks like a shark has attacked it. It's ridiculous. There are little bits and pieces missing all over the place.”
Stevenson also directed some ire at Robert Kubica. On his in-lap, the Renault driver tucked behind Adrian Sutil has the pair duelled down the final straight, but before entering the pits, pulled out from behind the Force India, cut across the Sutil, and dived down the pit lane.
“[It was] one of the most ridiculous moves I've ever seen,” said Stevenson. “I think if it hadn't been for Adrian's sharpness there would have been a huge accident going into the last corner. It was crazy and it ruined Adrian's race. It really did. And it also caused him a puncture on his right rear where Robert caught him.”
With all these unexpected upset afflicting Sutil and Liuzzi, Stevenson thinks the team were incredibly lucky that both drivers recovered to finish in the points: “[These were] three of the hardest points I think we've had to earn this year. It should have been a lot more”
“I think we're proving time after time that we have cars that can race for a points finish even if people are trying to destroy us all the way around.”
Although the team seemed to have more than their fair share of incidents, Stevenson will admit that the race must have provided an exciting spectacle for the drivers – he saw evidence of this on the pit wall: “We go through a lot of races just looking at the data and looking at the timing but this one was exciting. There were people jumping up and down.”