After such a promising start to the weekend, with a strong performance in both practice sessions yesterday, it all went wrong for Virgin Racing ahead of this afternoon's Qualifying session. Both cars suffered problems at almost exactly the same time, with first Timo and then Lucas
reporting gearbox issues shortly before the end of third practice. A gearbox change was deemed necessary on Timo's car, but Lucas' problem was diagnosed to be electrical, with an alternator being determined as the culprit. Both cars had been quick, the drivers happy with both the set-up and the new parts fitted overnight.
On Lucas' out-lap for qualifying, he reported a problem with gear selection and was called in. A change of steering wheel made no difference and it was game over for the Brazilian; he was unable to post a time for the session. The changes to Timo's car were completed just as the green light came on for the session and he was just starting his first flying lap when he was forced to avoid the flying wheel resulting from Liuzzi's accident. After the red flag, he set a time faster than the other new teams, but during the tyre change to fit the final set of options, a small amount of fluid was spotted on a brake caliper and the decision was made to investigate further rather than send him out again. Timo set the 20th fastest time, however both drivers will receive a gearbox change penalty.
Timo Glock, Race Driver #24
"A very disappointing day after the promising start we made to the weekend yesterday. The gearbox problem we experienced this morning was very frustrating because it cost us the end of the session. The guys did a fantastic job, working through the break to get the car ready in time for Qualifying, but then after the first run we had a problem with the rear brakes and it was too risky to go out again. After the first set of tyres we were in front of Lotus but we couldn't continue and therefore run the next set of options, so we don't know how it could have panned out -- we could have split the Lotus cars or even been ahead of them. It's just very disappointing."
Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25
"It has been a very frustrating day for me and the team because we were looking so good in Free Practice and I think we could have done a really good job in Qualifying. But we had the alternator problem late in the session this morning and then it was clear on my Qualifying out-lap that there was a gearbox problem which could not be fixed in the time we had. We will do the best we can tomorrow in the hope that we can finish as the best of the new teams."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director
"We are all extremely disappointed by today's results. After a few encouraging laps on the drying track this morning, Lucas experienced an engine alternator failure and oil leak which caused the gearbox control system to temporarily lose control of the gearshift with the sudden electrical voltage drop. It was unclear at the time whether this had caused damage to the gearbox, and after successful tests in the garage before qualifying, we elected to try it rather than change the gearbox and take a grid penalty. Sadly, a gearbox problem quickly became apparent when he tried his first qualifying run and we'll have to change his gearbox tonight. Timo's hopes of a good showing in front of his home crowd were thwarted by a different gearbox problem in free practice which stopped him doing any meaningful running this morning and forced us to change his gearbox before qualifying. His first proper run of the day was a great effort, but a small brake caliper hose fitting leak was spotted as his final set of tyres were being fitted, and we simply couldn't risk a final run. I guess the most annoying thing was that we have been unable to demonstrate the clear performance progress we have continued to make but hopefully we'll get an opportunity to do this tomorrow."