The sun was out in Shanghai today for the third race of the 2011 season in which Virgin Racing achieved another two car finish and secured its target of five out of six finishes in the opening three races. Jerôme D'Ambrosio also enjoyed his first finish ahead of his teammate.
The weather conditions today were a little warmer than yesterday’s Qualifying session, with an air temperature of 22°C and a track temperature of 31 °C.
As the race got underway it was a clean start and Timo and Jérôme raced each other hard through the first turns. At the end of the first lap Timo Glock emerged ahead in 21st position with Jérôme just behind in 22nd.
They then ran at a similar pace until the tyre degradation of the Soft Pirelli P-Zero tyres became an issue. After 16 laps Timo was the first to stop, with Jérôme following him in four laps later. Although both cars had planned a two-stop strategy, Timo’s tyre wear seemed worse than Jérôme’s and the team switched to a three-stop race.
For the rest of the race the two cars behaved reliably and were running at a steady pace throughout. Both drivers brought their cars back home safely again, with Jérôme finishing in 20th position and Timo classified 21st.
“I'm very pleased with my race. It's my second finish so I'm happy about that. I think I made progress throughout the whole weekend and my race pace was much better than in the previous two races, which is also good. The first lap was good fun as I had an enjoyable fight with Timo, he got past me, then I passed him and then he overtook me again. It was the sort of racing I like. I can see I'm making improvements and that's the important thing and now I'm looking forward to Turkey.”
“Not a great race unfortunately from my point of view, but positive in the fact that we got both cars home, which was the objective. I had a good start and a good first lap. I managed to stay in front of the HRT and overtook Jérôme when he had a moment in turn 13. In general we suffered a bit more rear degradation for some reason. The team then took the decision to convert to a three stop race but this was not the right way to go because we suffered massively with the blue flags. Then in the last stop the wheel didn’t go on, which cost me a few seconds leaving the pits. Generally on the hard tyre the car was slightly better but in the beginning we just struggled. A difficult start to the season is now behind us and we look forward positively to the upgrade that everyone has been working so hard on behind the scenes to ensure we can take a good step forward in Turkey. Thanks to everyone in the team for a great start operationally and I hope we can share some better results as we move ahead.”
John Booth, Team Principal:
“Obviously today was a very good result for Jérôme in only his third race. His two-stop strategy proved far superior to the three-stop strategy we decided upon for Timo and more suited to what our competitors were doing around us. All credit to Jérôme for getting a two-stopper to work. Following some feedback in the race from Timo regarding the degradation he was suffering with the rear tyres, we were perhaps a little too quick to convert him to three stops. Our predictions pre-race were that this would be worse and with the benefit of hindsight we can see it was not the way to go. We didn’t help Timo and when he had a problem during his final stop he lost quite a bit of time and had to fight hard to catch the HRT again and overtake. Overall we have had a better weekend in reliability terms and it has proved a useful development opportunity as we have faced several challenges that we will learn from. This is the last of the season-opening long hauls and, as is the case up and down the pit lane, the race team are ready for a bit of a break, particularly after the back to back between Malaysia and China. Meanwhile, as you would expect, everyone at our technical base is nose to the grindstone ensuring that the Turkey upgrade goes according to plan and delivers the performance gains we expect so we can get back to where we should be for the start of the European season.”