Virgin Begin To Catch-Up

2011 Hungarian Grand Prix - Sunday
Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary
31st July 2011
World Copyright:Andrew Ferraro/LAT Photographic
ref: Digital Image _Q0C5432 While I was out sunning myself in Italy, Formula 1 decided it couldn’t stop just for me and in spite of my decision, they decided to make me miss two races. So, this is a sort of special post for you lot, or, just a catch up, but special also sounds quite nice.

German Grand Prix

Pre-Race

As per usual, the German Grand Prix likes to alternate between the sleep-inducing Hockenheim and the fairly action-packed Nurburgring. Thankfully for everyone, it was the turn of the latter in 2011.

There was more driver changes in place for Germany, as mentioned previously on this very blog to my massive dismay, New Teams Championship leader Jarno Trulli was replaced with former Hispania driver Karun Chandhok for one race only.

At Virgin Racing, Timo Glock was confirmed to be continuing on at the team for 2012, and no doubt you don’t need me to tell you that it is a massive waste of talent.

Sadly, my prediction for Karthikeyan replacing Liuzzi proved untrue, as the Italian and Ricciardo remained in the Hispania.

Qualifying 

In a massive shock, Heikki Kovalainen once again was the quickest of the six cars. However his team mate, with Trulli usually a few tenths of a second behind, this time was just under a second slower than Kovalainen, starting behind the Virgin of Timo Glock, who had set a stunning lap time.

Jerome D’Ambrosio was right behind Chandhok, while Ricciardo had closed the gap up to Liuzzi, almost setting identical times. However thanks to a gearbox replacement for Liuzzi, Ricciardo was promoted a position.

Thanks to technical infringements found on the car of Sebastian Buemi, his car was declared illegal and his times deleted, forcing him to start 24th and moving everybody below up a position.

Race

Sadly I’m unable to perform an indepth review of every single detail for the backmarkers, because I couldn’t understand a single word of what the RAI commentators were saying. And when Liuzzi retired on lap 37, he unkindly spoke to the pit reporters in Italian, which, again, didn’t help. How ungrateful.

The cause for this retirement would be an electrical fault, and prove to be the only retirement from the six.

Nothing much of note really happened for the remaining cars. Chandhok struggled in his first race in 2011, spinning off the track at one point and coming a further two laps behind Kovalainen, as well as a lap behind the remaining finishers. A poor showing by the Indian which won’t help his cause for full time employment.

So Heikki Kovalainen would come home in first place, ahead of Glock, D’Ambrosio, Ricciardo and Chandhock.

  Driver Team Race Pos. Points
1 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 16th 10
2 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin 17th 6
3 Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 18th 4
4 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania 19th 3
5 Karun Chandhok Team Lotus 2oth 2
6 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania Ret 0

Karun Chandhok (20th): “"Honestly, that probably wasn’t the race I wanted -I had a couple of high speed spins and I think I need more time to get used to the tyres. When they start to go off there’s very little give compared to last year’s rubber, but that’s all part of the learning process and I’m glad I got the car home and did the best job I could.”

Timo Glock (17th): “After a positive start to the day with the announcement about my future with the team, it was quite a difficult race today. I struggled with the braking system from the middle of the race onwards and I wasn’t able to push late on in the race, so we have to look into the problem. Otherwise thanks to the team for a good weekend at my home Grand Prix.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi (Retired): “It was a shame because, even though the penalisation for the gearbox meant we had to start from P23, we had a strong start where we passed a few cars on the first lap and had good pace.  A few laps into the race we started to suffer some problems with the brake balance and we lost quite a bit of pace. After the pit stop, with the tyre change, we recovered our strong pace until an unfortunate electronic issue forced us to retire”

Hungarian Grand Prix

Pre-Race

After an indifferent week in Italy which saw some rain, Formula 1 moved to Hungary where it was greeted probably by that exact same rain. The only noteworthy thing was that Jarno Trulli was back in the Team Lotus car, and delighted with the power steering. That is noted correctly, not unhappy, but delighted. Words you’d never thought I would get the chance to write.

Qualifying 

In a result nobody could predict, Heikki Kovalainen was the quickest of the new teams for just the tenth time this season. He was followed closely by his team mate yet again, with Trulli still not quite at the same speed of the Finn.

It was however a poor showing by Jerome D’Ambrosio, as he found himself dead last and the only driver of the six not to benefit by the five place grid drop handed to Sebastian Buemi.

Race

Changeable conditions in the rain saw some shock movements. A crazy start allowed Kovalainen to end up as high as 15th, holding up four cars who were struggling to overtake him on the wet track. Elsewhere, Timo Glock had managed to get ahead of Trulli and several other cars, before the track began to dry out, while Ricciardo also made a terrific start.

Trulli’s race would not last long, a water leak forcing him out after just 17 laps. Meanwhile his team mate continued to frustrate the cars behind him, driving superbly to stay ahead. However his pitstop would make him unstuck, initially losing positions and then being fooled by a brief shower, coming in for Intermediate tyres when they weren’t required, this in effect ruined his afternoon.

Kovalainen was not the only driver to make this mistake, Jerome D’Ambrosio also coming into the pits for Inters when they weren’t required. However it would be his mistake coming into the pits that would give him the television attention, somehow managing to spin the car at pit lane speeds, wasting time for his mechanics to get him in the box and change tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo was impressive though, driving far better than his team mate and finishing in the end a good 50 seconds ahead of him and D’Ambrosio who never really made up for his mistakes.

Kovalainen’s excellent afternoon would become unstuck with ten laps to go, with his car suffering the same fate as Trulli’s. It was unfortunate, but ultimately fails to come away from the weekend without any points.

All of this ultimately meant that Timo Glock would once again benefit from a Team Lotus double retirement for the second time in three races. The reliability of the Lotus cars could be given as a cause of concern, with eight retirements to Hispania’s four and Virgin’s two.

  Driver Team Race Pos. Points
1 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin 17th 10
2 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania 18th 6
3 Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 19th 4
4 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania 20th 3
5 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus Ret 0
6 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus Ret 0

Timo Glock (17th): “A very interesting race today, I have to say, and very good fun. I got a great start and got ahead of Heidfeld and some other guys in faster cars and was able to stay in front of them. They obviously were able to get past me after it started to dry and I just concentrated on my own race, managing to hold the gap behind me. Then when it started to rain, we made the right decision, staying on the slicks. It wasn’t easy to stay on track today as we saw, but we got the right result in the end.”

Daniel Ricciardo (18th): “Overall, I’m satisfied with my race and the best finish in three races. During the race, I wasn’t really sure where I was on track because a lot of cars made quite a few pit stops so in all honesty I didn’t really know how I was doing. Towards the end I felt we had quite a good balance in the car and I was able to do some good times. I’m sure there are things I could have done better so we’ll look into that to keep on improving. But again I feel we are progressing well.”

Heikki Kovalainen (Retired): “Having seen how close we were in race pace to the midfield I’m not disappointed – it’s just another step in the growth of the team and we’ll pick up where we left off in Belgium in a few weeks time.”

Standings

Drivers Championship

Although there has been very little movement, something I didn’t expect to happen has: It’s starting to look very exciting. Timo Glock has managed to edge ahead of his team mate with an impressive 16 point haul from the two races. Heikki Kovalainen has benefitted from the fact Trulli hasn’t scored points in the last three races being just three points behind. Glock is a further three points behind the Finn with D’Ambrosio ten points behind. So the top four drivers are all within ten points, that’s a race win. Hold on while I rub my hands with glee.

Daniel Ricciardo has only been in three races, but already is on the same number of points as the former Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan, while Karun Chandhok is dead last and will remain that way no doubt for the rest of the season.

  Driver Team Points
1 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus 55
2 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 52
3 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin 49
4 Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 45
5 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania 26
6 Narain Karthikeyan Hispania 12
7 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania 12
8 Karun Chandhok Team Lotus 2

Teams Championship

In even further excitement, Virgin are closing the gap on Team Lotus, now just 15 points from top spot. All they need is a 1-2. Just putting the possibility out there.

    Team Points
1 Team Lotus 109
2   Marussia Virgin 94
3   Hispania 50


Next Race

It is the summer break and we all have to wait until the end of August for the Belgian Grand Prix, traditionally the place where upgrades are tried out and shown to the world. Team Lotus realistically need to up their game and start finishing more races, otherwise they could face a real shock and see the Virgin Racing drivers sail up the leaderboard leaving them behind.

The temperamental conditions at Spa-Francorchamps last year saw both Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock make Q2, something which could happen again this year. Kovalainen would go on to lead a Lotus 1-2 in the race.

And who knows, there will be no doubt some sort of really annoying driver change that ruins this Championship. At least those Javier Villa rumours are dying down now.

Posted on August 7, 2011, in New Teams Championship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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