Virgin Racing’s Korean Grand Prix weekend ended in frustration today when the race came to a premature conclusion for both Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi as a consequence of separate racing incidents.
As Formula One counted down to the start of a race which several weeks ago had seemed like it might never happen, it had been raining intermittently for 15 hours and the conditions were getting worse, not better. After the start was delayed for 10 minutes in the hope that the heavens would close, the race got underway behind the safety car, but three laps was all it took to confirm that the circuit was undriveable. The race was subsequently red-flagged, which gave rise to a second grid formation.
At 16:05 the race was restarted, again behind the safety car, and after a further 13 laps the conditions had improved sufficiently to allow the racing to finally get underway. The early part was strong for both drivers, with Lucas making the right call to switch to the Intermediate tyre on lap 17 as the rain subsided and a dry line began to appear. He was running closely behind the established teams when he went out trying to avoid a crash with the slower Sakon Yamamoto ahead of him.
All hopes rested on Timo, who was running in a very encouraging 12th position when he was hit by Sebastian Buemi. The Toro Rosso driver lost control under braking at the end of the straight and speared the right-hand side of Timo’s car. Timo came into the pits to allow the team to assess the damage, but it was too extensive for him to be able to continue and he was forced to retire.
Timo Glock, Race Driver #24: “This was a very disappointing race, especially after having been in a strong position to achieve a good result. The restart was okay and the track was starting to improve. We had quite good pace in the first part of the race and were clearly the quickest of the new teams. It’s just a huge shame that we couldn’t finish the race and all because of the mistake made by Buemi. It just seemed that he was all over the place. We now head to Brazil for the penultimate race of the season where I hope we can expect more luck than we found here in Korea.”
Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25: “A very frustrating day here in Korea . We had made the correct call by switching to the Intermediate tyre very early in the race and on lap 15 I went out trying to avoid a crash with Yamamoto, who was ahead of me but much slower. Again I was in a good position for a strong result as I was running together with both Saubers and a Toro Rosso after the last safety car period ended. The next stop is my home race in Brazil, so we hope for better things there in two weeks’ time.”
John Booth, Team Principal: “A really unlucky day for us today as we were looking good for a strong placing with both cars. Lucas had made a good early switch to Intermediates, which would have benefited him as the race unfolded, but he crashed trying to avoid Yamamoto. Timo was up to 12th place and comfortably leading the new teams’ battle when he was hit by Buemi in an accident which was entirely Buemi’s fault and for which he was subsequently penalised. Both cars sustained considerable damage but we will regroup and bounce back strongly in Brazil.”