Mixed results for Cosworth teams in China
Difficult weather conditions yielded a mixed bag of results for the four Cosworth-powered teams in yesterday's rain-afflicted Chinese Grand Prix. AT&T Williams driver Rubens Barrichello
was the highest placed Cosworth driver in 12th
position just two seconds shy of maintaining the team's run of points-scoring finishes this season.
A 14th place finish belied a hard-fought and well-judged race from Lotus Racing's Heikki Kovalainen, who had made the most of an intelligent strategy to run as high as sixth in the early stages. Nonetheless, he finished just one lap down and ahead of the Williams-Cosworth of Nico Huelkenberg, representing another highly satisfactory result for Lotus Racing in just their fourth Grand Prix.
The rookie Hispania Racing F1 team (HRT F1) also had cause for satisfaction with their second consecutive two car finish, on this occasion with Bruno Senna ahead of his team-mate Karun Chandhok. Unfortunately neither Virgin Racing driver completed the race with Lucas Di Grassi experiencing clutch problems and Timo Glock retiring as a result of a chassis-related fire that damaged the engine's AVS system.
General Manager of Cosworth's F1 Business Unit, Mark Gallagher said: "The Chinese Grand Prix brings to an end the opening group of 'flyaway' races for this season and we can reflect on a generally positive first four events for Cosworth. Unfortunately none of our teams picked up points but there were still some noteworthy performances which were not necessarily reflected by the end positions. Along with the team we decided on Saturday morning to change Rubens Barrichello
's engine, although this was purely precautionary. With a fresh engine, he then had a strong qualifying session and was only prevented from reaching Q3 by the tiniest fraction. The highlight of the race was definitely Heikki's result for Lotus and briefly running in the top six. HRT were also delighted with another two car finish while it was unfortunate that Virgin Racing endured reliability trouble. Timo's car experienced a chassis-related fire on the way to the grid which subsequently damaged the engine's AVS system and forced him out of the race on the opening lap. Overall, though, the data we have gathered during China will allow us to fine-tune the chassis-engine performance further with our teams ahead of the start of the European season."
As the Icelandic volcano ash continues to wreak havoc across European airspace, Cosworth's 19 track support staff are currently taking up temporary residence back in Malaysia as they endeavour to make their way back to the UK. Thanks to the invaluable support of Lotus team boss Tony Fernandes and his AirAsia airline, the Cosworth group were able to depart Hangzhou for Kuala Lumpur on Monday lunchtime from where they hope to fly home direct by AirAsia to Stansted on Tuesday. The Cosworth crew have enjoyed outstanding service by Tony, Lotus and AirAsia making an otherwise stressful experience nothing but stress-free.
Mark Gallagher: "I cannot thank Tony Fernandes and AirAsia enough for the support that they have given us since Sunday to get the Cosworth team from China to Kuala Lumpur. We have been treated fabulously well and the AirAsia staff have been absolutely outstanding. I was also able to get some very constructive feedback on our CA2010 from Heikki Kovalainen on the journey which reinforces the benefits that Cosworth derives from having such a highly experienced and technically savvy driver. We are now back in the same hotel as we were for the Malaysian Grand Prix planning our route back to Europe, most likely with AirAsia. We have three weeks to prepare for the next race in Spain but a lot of our preparation work depends on when the Formula One freight makes it back to Europe. We are aiming to conduct a standard health check-up on all available engines before Spain. Although there will be no negative impact if air travel restrictions prevent this from happening, it would be preferable. Our teams actually face a bigger dilemma as they look to prepare upgrades to their cars for the start of the European season. It goes to show that there is no such luxury as a three-week break in Formula One; everyone now faces a race against time for the Spain-Monaco double header."