AUGUST 14, 2007

So what happens to Tonio Liuzzi?

The news that Sebastien Bourdais has been signed by Scuderia Toro Rosso means that Tonio Liuzzi is out of work with Red Bull next season: four of the Red Bull drives have now been assigned elsewhere in 2008, only one of them going to a member of the Red Bull Young Driver scheme.

Liuzzi has been with the Austrian drinks company since he entered Formula 3000 in 2003. In 2004 he won the International Formula 3000 Championship in dominant style but since then has had his career messed around by all the politicking at Red Bull, initially because of the company's misplaced devotion to Christian Klien and then because of Scuderia Toro Rosso's desire to do its own thing without being influenced by Red Bull Junior Team boss Helmut Marko. Through it all the Italian has remained relatively sanguine and has produced decent showings whenever his cars have allowed it (which has not been often).

The good news is that there appear to be a couple of teams that are showing interest in Liuzzi. He is by far the most experienced youngster who has yet to be seen in a good car and at the moment the bigger teams are looking for men with experience AND potential or hanging on to older drivers who are known quantities.

Given that teams that are planning to change to drivers may want to get them into the cars as early as possible, it is also not impossible that Liuzzi could shift before the end of the year. Looking at the market at the moment, nothing is going to move much before McLaren makes it very clear what is happening with Fernando Alonso. This could open up possibilities in teams that are currently settled. Of the current options there is Toyota, although this will probably re-sign Ralf Schumacher, for reasons known only to them. Renault and Williams are also possibilities. Renault has Nelson Piquet Jr waiting in the wings if Giancarlo Fisichella or Heikki Kovalainen departs and so there is not much hope there but Williams is an option given that Alexander Wurz could be doing a better job and the team showed some interest in Tonio back in 2003 when it gave him his first taste of F1.