Liuzzi replaces Fisichella at Force India

LONDON Mon Sep 7, 2009 4:03pm IST

A file photo of Italy's Vitantonio Liuzzi in Doha February 14, 2009.  REUTERS/Fadi Al-Assaad/Files

A file photo of Italy's Vitantonio Liuzzi in Doha February 14, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Fadi Al-Assaad/Files

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LONDON (Reuters) - Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi will race for Force India from his home Grand Prix on Sunday following the departure of compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella to Ferrari, the Formula One team said on Monday.

Fisichella has moved to the champions as replacement for Italian Luca Badoer, the 38-year-old reserve who had struggled as a stand-in for injured Brazilian Felipe Massa in the last two races.

Liuzzi was the reserve driver for Silverstone-based Force India and last raced in Formula One with Toro Rosso in 2007, with sixth place in a wet race in China that year his best finish.

He also raced four times for Red Bull in 2005 before switching to Toro Rosso in 2006.

"I'm delighted to give Tonio the opportunity to get back into a race seat, which I know he has been itching to do for the past two years," team principal Vijay Mallya said in a statement.

"Force India is now in a very competitive position and we need a driver who can continue this momentum.

"This will be the chance for Tonio to demonstrate to both the team and the field that he has the commitment, speed and professionalism to perform and I am sure he will seize this opportunity."

FIRST POINTS

Force India, who have now competed in 30 grands prix, scored their first points in Formula One at the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug. 30 when Fisichella finished second after starting on pole position.

With the Force India now seen as a car capable of challenging the frontrunners, Liuzzi and German team mate Adrian Sutil have a real chance of scoring more points at Monza.

"I can't wait to get back into the car in race trim, particularly at my home Grand Prix in Monza," said the Italian, who last drove the VJM02 car in a straight-line test in Britain on Sept. 3.

"I am confident I can carry on our progress. I'm very motivated, I'm in good shape and hungry to get some more points on the board.

"Although it's unfortunate that this came about as a ... result of Felipe's accident, this is my opportunity to show people what I can do and I'm really looking forward to it," added Liuzzi, who will be starting his 40th grand prix.

(To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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