Qualifying for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix took place in hot and sunny conditions in Monza today. This morning's third Free Practice session went smoothly for Virgin Racing, with both cars completing the runs required by the engineers to determine a good race setup.
the team had reverted to a more standard low-downforce configuration, and were instantly quicker than yesterday, the drivers rapidly arriving at their preferred race setup to cover both Prime and Option tyres. The team opted to change the differential on Timo's car before the start of qualifying, and consequently he will receive a five-place grid penalty.
In qualifying, Timo was the first car out on the track, but was unfortunately blocked on his first flying lap and could not set a representative time on that set of tyres. Lucas was planning to do one run less than Timo, and for the rest of the session the two drivers were very closely matched with only four hundredths of a second separating them at the flag. The battle to be fastest of the new teams was as close as ever, but as neither Lucas nor Timo managed to improve sufficiently on their last runs, both cars will be starting behind the Lotus pair. They are however confident of a strong race setup and are looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
Timo Glock, Race Driver #24
"I'm a little disappointed to end qualifying the way we did because we had good pace early on in the session. On the very first run my lap was penalised by Vitaly Petrov, who came out of the pits and pulled out on to the racing line into turn one. On the second run I had good pace and we were ahead of Lotus, but on the third set of tyres there was no grip on the rear. Everyone was able to improve but we didn't. We have incurred a grid penalty for tomorrow as a result of taking the decision to change our differential, but it was the right thing to do. In general I am happy with the car so we will see what the race brings tomorrow."
Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25
"A good Saturday overall. I'm satisfied with my lap time in qualifying and I extracted the maximum from the car today as our set-up is a compromise for the long race tomorrow. So far the whole team and car has run really smoothly this weekend so I can see a lot of progress in this area and I hope it continues for tomorrow."
Mark Herd, Head of Performance and Race Engineering
"Today has been another relatively smooth day. The cars went in a slightly different direction in terms of aero setup. We weren't happy with the differential on Timo's car and chose to change it before qualifying, thus incurring a five-place grid penalty. Timo was unlucky to be blocked on his first run and then seemed to have an unexpected loss of grip on his final set. Lucas had some small gear-shift issues. It was disappointing that were unable to displace Lotus but the gap to them is small and we look forward to a very close race with them tomorrow."