Vitantonio Liuzzi kept his cool in a rollercoaster of a race to finish seventh and win six invaluable points for Force India while Karun Chandhok was among the 14 drivers who lasted the distance in the Australian Grand Prix here on Sunday.
Liuzzi bettered his ninth place finish in Bahrain Grand Prix with yet another mature performance to ensure Force India didn't return empty-handed from the race.
The Italian's composed performance at the Albert Park somewhat alleviated the outfit's disappointment after Adrian Sutil — who started 10th on the grid and looked primed for his maiden points of the season — had to retire from the race prematurely.
Hispania driver Karun survived numerous intrigues and managed to bring his car to the chequered flag as the 14th and last driver to do so but it was no mean achievement for the rookie Indian.
While an engine problem cooked Sutil's goose inside seven laps, Liuzzi drove a beautifully controlled race, tackling Pedro de la Rosa's BMW Sauber, keeping Rubens Barrichello at bay and holding the hard-earned eighth position before benefitting from a Mark Webber-Lewis Hamilton tangle to finish seventh.
“Tonio drove a brilliant race today and no wonder he is among the points again. He thoroughly deserves it. It confirms that our pace is there and we are now genuinely in the hunt for points,” Force India chairman Vijay Mallya told PTI.
Liuzzi himself was no less happy.
“It was another great race and another great result for the team. It's a confirmation of the pace we showed in Bahrain and the work the team did over the winter,” said the Italian.
“We worked hard all week-end for this seventh place and it's a brilliant result at the end of what was a crazy race. I think it was another perfect week-end and now we can look forward to Malaysia,” Liuzzi added.
Sutil, meanwhile, was upset after a golden opportunity to open his account went abegging on Sunday.
“We seemed to have a problem with the engine very early on in the race. It was a shame as we were looking good after the start,” rued the German.
“We missed out on a big chance here,”he said.
Karun Chandhok was a very relieved man after finishing the Formula One Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday.
After lasting just a little more than a lap in his debut race in Bahrain a few days ago, the 26-year-old Indian has now passed his first big test in F-1.
“It's nice to get a race, I learned how to drive an F-1 race,” said the Hispania Racing driver. “It's a good step psychologically.”
Karun's drive also helped his team achieve its first-ever finish in F-1 on Sunday. But it was not easy.
“At the start, I could see a big accident developing ahead of me and tried to keep to the inside to avoid trouble,” said Karun. “And we had problems with the front suspension, the car was also jumping a lot at the bumps… at the braking area.”
Did the early exit at Bahrain run through Karun's mind especially when he saw the accident developing?
“No, no… nothing of that sort. I just focused on my job, to finish the race,” said Karun, making it clear that Bahrain was now out of his mind. “And I've seen a lot of accidents in races.”