With the Formula One circus having slowly trickled their way back to Europe following the closure of the European airspace, we’re able here on the Stefan Grand Prix blog to look back and evaluate the third exciting race in a row after the turgid start in Bahrain.
As qualifying was held in perfect sunny conditions, it was no surprise to see all three new teams competing in the SGP Championship falling foul in Q1. This time around, it was Timo Glock in the Virgin-Cosworth who stole pole position from Jarno Trulli in the Lotus-Cosworth by 0.100 seconds. Meanwhile, Bruno Senna regained the upper hand over Karun Chandhok qualifying the Indian driver by 0.100 seconds.
Of interested as well was Bruno Senna’s Hispania Racing’s qualifying time compared to Lucas Di Grassi who qualified just ahead of the Brazilian. It would appear that the HRT’s are now only 0.7seconds off the Virgin & Lotus pace.
Now, be honest, who would have thought after 4 races, you would have seen a Lotus racing in 6th place? Ok, dreaming it isn’t the same and thinking it would happen. Keeping his Finnish head cool while all others lost theirs and came in to change their tyres twice, Hekki Kovalainen eventually crept up to 6th for several laps until he was gobbled up by the recovering pack. After a tense battle with Nico Hulkenburg’s Williams, Hekki eventually finished 14th and on the top spot for the 3rd time this year of the Stefan Grand Prix Championship. He also picked up an extra point for the fastest lap of those competing for the Championship.
Meanwhile, for the second race running, the two remaining podium places here taken by the Hispania Racing Team’s Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok, although this time around, it was the Brazilian who led home his Indian team mate. After a week of negative headlines from it’s own employees, it must be heartening for the small Spanish team to again achieve such great milestones as the F1 paddock heads home to Europe.
Dr. Kolles said after the race “A good day for the team completing our second two-car finish in the rain in our fourth race. Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna drove their second wet race after Australia. Again we reached our goal with two cars finishing the race and we gathered quite a lot of data on this track that can be used for the European season. Congratulations to the team. Now in the three weeks to come, we must work on more developments for the team’s home Grand Prix in Barcelona.”
Retiring on lap 26 was Jarno Trulli, who had to retire with hydraulic failure…again. A common gremlin for all of the new teams. Jarno has said this week that he feels the team are only achieving 10% of their potential.
“I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, that everything would be new and we would need time,” he said. “I had expected at least to drive. Instead, after four races I did not start once and when I got to the finish, it was because it was decided I should take the chequered flag but in far from ideal conditions.
“We operate like a real team in the top series, but unfortunately we are only at 10% of our potential because of lack of time. There’s no testing, and the racing weekend is the only chance to test and oil the structure. For us this is our apprenticeship year.The thing Lotus has lacked is time, the main culprit for our difficulties. Had we had time to program everything more in advance, we would have better prepared the structure, the car, the gearbox, our hydraulics system and everything you need to start well. All this work is being done now, race after race.”
Coming in last again was the Virgin Racing Team, whose season is progressing from bad to worse with the news last week that the delay in getting back to Europe due to the complete shutdown of Northern European airspace has meant that only one Virgin Racing car will be ready in time for the Spanish Grand Prix with a bigger fuel tank. Currently, they have reasonable pace, but reliability is severely lacking.
Nick Wirth explained after the race what has happened during the Chinese Grand Prix. “Following the overnight Parc Ferme, we started the cars this morning and discovered that the clutch on Lucas’ car was not functioning correctly. We changed the clutch before the Race, but it still wasn’t working properly even when we eventually got Lucas out and into the Race and ultimately we had to retire him. Timo’s car lost engine valve system air pressure on the Grid, which required us to move him back to the garage. We attempted to refill the air system but it was clear that there was a substantial air leak from the system in a place which was difficult to access quickly, so we were also forced to retire his car. All in all, a very disappointing day, but I know that we will get to grips with the problems and bounce back in Barcelona.”
1st: Hekki Kovalainen 36pts
2nd= Karun Chandhok 17pts
2nd= Lucas Di Grassi 17pts
4rd: Bruno Senna 16pts
5th: Jarno Trulli 13pts
6th: Timo Glock 9pts
1st: Lotus 49pts
2nd: Hispania Racing 33pts
3rd: Virgin Racing 26pts