Crazy shirts, singing, and Red Bull's winning prospects...
His unusual fashion sense may give the impression that he is less serious than his more conventionally dressed colleagues, but when it comes to racing Toro Rossos Vitantonio Liuzzi is as determined as any potential world champion can be. And world champion is exactly what the 24-year-old Italian wants to be - on the podium and holding the trophy - as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com
Q: In your previous racing life you were top of the class - International Formula 3000 champion. How does it feel to start all over again?
VL: I did a really good job in the past and to get into Formula One is not for everybody, so others also must have felt that. Its a normal step in a career that you come to crossroads where you are confronted with new challenges - just like in school, progressing from elementary to secondary to high school, and finally to university. True, the learning process in F1 was tough, but throughout my career so far I was always involved with the right people and the right teams to teach me the right things to make my learning curve run north. I am very satisfied with how it has all gone so far and I hope to win the Formula One world championship as soon as possible.
Q: A prominent paddock figure said recently that a Red Bull team is your only chance to be in Formula One racing - that no other team would sign you. Whats your reply to such a statement?
VL: Probably he doesnt know the history of the drivers in F1. I would say that 80 percent of the drivers who are here are here not for their curriculum, but for other reasons.
Q: You had very little chance to race last year when you were sharing the Red Bull cockpit with Christian Klien. How would you sum up things after five consecutive races with Toro Rosso in 2006?
VL: I am very satisfied because I am with a team that is growing every day. We are in the middle of a process of hiring a strong group of people for 2007. I am also satisfied with my performance so far, finishing 11th twice - in Bahrain and Malaysia - and doing well in Australia when I found Villeneuve in my way. I am looking forward.
Q: Your recent tests with Red Bull Racing raised a few eyebrows as well as questions over whether you might move back to Toro Rosso sister team next year. Any comment?
VL: I work for Red Bull overall, so there is no room for rumours. Red Bulls teams are the ones that want to achieve the best results in the shortest time - and whatever they decide over my future is fine with me.
Q: In a very short space of time you have become regarded as a bit of a character in the Formula One paddock. Is there a risk that people wont take you seriously as a driver as a result?
VL: I want to be myself because you only live one life and I never want to reach 40 and have to say that Ive never laughed. And I think it is stupid that people think that just because I wear baggy pants or crazy shirts that I cannot perform. One thing has nothing to do with the other. When I am in the car I am totally focused on results - and when I am out of the car on other things.
Q: It has been five months now since Scuderia Toro Rosso took over the ailing Minardi team. Aside from moving ahead of Midland and Super Aguri, what other improvements have taken place?
VL: Our biggest aim was - and is - to bring the best talents to the team as 2007 is the target where we want to be competitive and I am sure that at the end of this season it will already show.
Q: You once said you wanted to be a singer, a performer. Still happy you made the right career choice?
VL: People always like the what-might-have-been games. The truth is that I like music, but from my early age on, when I got into karting it was clear for me that I wanted to be a race driver, as racing is in my blood.
Q: The Red Bull environment is perfect one for theatrics, for fun and games. Is it also perfect for your ambitions as a driver?
VL: Yes it is. Red Bull is not a brand that just puts on a show and a party. They are investing heavily in Formula One and Mr Mateschitz is putting a great deal of effort into the teams - in fact he is the only person who owns two teams. And the way he groups the best heads of the paddock around these two teams shows his ambitions. Sure, it takes time, but the world championship is clearly on the agenda and the fact that Red Bull is a perfectly-working marketing engine plays to our advantage.