Virgin’s missed opportunity in Canada leaves them last again

2011 F1 season review

Timo Glock, Virgin, Abu Dhabi, 2011

Virgin were last again in 2011

Poor reliability was the chief reason why Virgin finished last in the championship in their first season.

They finished in the same place this year, but it’s fair to say that misfortune played a greater role in them failing to beat HRT this time.

More often than not, Virgin out-qualified and out-raced their back-of-the-grid rivals in 2011. What ultimately made the difference was a single race: the Canadian Grand Prix.

With six laps to go Timo Glock was running 14th in front of his team mate, the HRTs and Jarno Trulli. But he locked up his tyres, damaged them badly, and fell back.

That allowed Vitantonio Liuzzi to claim the 13th place which made the difference between the two teams at the end of the year. This was despite Virgin having two 14th places and three 15ths. HRT’s next best finish was a single 16th place, which Virgin had three of. It’s a tough world outside the points places in F1.

Virgin team stats 2011

Best race result (number) 14th (2)
Best grid position (number) 19th (3)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 8 (5/3)
Laps completed (% of total) 1,820 (80.32%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2010) 12th (12th)
Championship points (2010) 0 (0)
Pit stop performance ranking 11th

Virgin’s reliability was measurably better this year: retirements due to technical failures fell from 14 to five (plus one failure to start, also due to a car problem), which was better than Williams, Lotus or HRT managed. Their percentage of laps completed increased from 72.5% last year to over 80%.

However this remained a glitch-prone team which suffered problems in some unusual areas. Such as the pit wall failure in Suzuka which left them without timing information to make their strategy calls.

More alarming was Timo Glock’s rear wing failure in qualifying at Monza, when the Drag Reductions System jammed open. Jerome D’Ambrosio had a suspension failure in practice at Sepang and his front wing failed in China.

Timo Glock, Virgin, Montreal, 2011

A lock-up for Glock in Montreal cost Virgin 11th place

In pure performance terms Virgin fared even worse than last year. By the end of the season it was hard to imagine this was the team that had vied with Lotus on pace for much of last year.

That much was clear in Monza, where retirements offered Virgin their best chance of getting back in front of HRT. Glock finished 15th behind the two Lotuses, 50 seconds adrift of Kovalainen.

Alarm bells were ringing at the first race weekend when the team were more than 7% slower than the fastest time in the first two practice sessions, raising fears they might fail to qualify under the 107% rule. This did not happen, and although the team later fell foul of the rule on more than one occasion, it was usually related to some technical problem, and they always received permission to race.

However they came under increasing pressure from HRT and were out-qualified by their rivals in the final race of the year.

Long before then, technical director Nick Wirth had been shown the door. With him went his radical policy of eschewing wind tunnels and instead modelling the car entirely using computer simulation. One month later, the team concluded a deal with McLaren to use their car development tools including a wind tunnel.

Timo Glock, Virgin, Sepang, 2011

Virgin will become Marussia in 2012

This, and plans to consolidate the team’s disparate bases of operation, should help make the MVR-03 a more competitive proposition. But the impending collapse of the Resource Restriction Agreement is the worse possible news for this tiny team.

Their entry into F1 was originally conceived under Max Mosley’s budget cap. The team then found itself operating under the less restrictive RRA, and even those restrictions now look set to disappear.

Among the other changes coming for next year will be a new name: Marussia. The Russian sports car brand has taken over the team’s entry from Richard Branson’s company.

D’Ambrosio will also not remain with the team – like Lucas di Grassi before him, he loses his seat after his first year in F1.

He compared reasonably well against Glock and although there were crashes in practice in India and Canada it seems harsh to hold those against him when the world champion did much the same. His spin in the pits in Hungary was embarrassing, though.

Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin, Korea, 2011

Jerome d'Ambrosio has lost his seat to Charles Pic

He occasionally gave his team mate cause for concern, particularly at Suzuka, where he edged Glock in qualifying on the renowned ‘driver’s track’. He put up a good fight in the last race at Interlagos as well, but the deal to replace him with Charles Pic had already been done and was announced within hours of the chequered flag falling.

Opportunities for Glock to shine were even rarer than they had been last year, though he was thrilled with his qualifying lap in Monaco where he trimmed the deficit to Lotus to half a second, and made an excellent start in Valencia.

Nonetheless Glock has pledged his long-term future to this team which is a bold move for the former GP2 champion given their lack of success so far.

2011 F1 season review

Browse all 2011 F1 season review articles

Images ?? Virgin Racing

Advert | Go Ad-free

66 comments on Virgin’s missed opportunity in Canada leaves them last again

  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 5th December 2011, 12:22

    they went backwards this year. Compared to Lotus AND HRT.

    Sad, I like this team…

  2. James (@jamesf1) said on 5th December 2011, 12:27

    I’d say the last sentence of this article is open to subject to personal opinion. Imagine if Glock got the team’s first couple of points in years to come, would that not be a great news story for the team and F1? Glock, a driver with tallent and strong finishes, shoved out on to his backside by Toyota and their pathetic F1 project, who then went to a team which had been built from scratch.

    I’d find that an excellent story. It’s pretty much a certainty that Caterham (Team Lotus) will be the first of the new teams to get points, but I still like the idea that Glock will get a reward for all his hard work, dedication and determination.

  3. BasCB (@bascb) said on 5th December 2011, 12:46

    A sad state of affairs when this can be said for Glock

    he was thrilled with his qualifying lap in Monaco where he trimmed the deficit to Lotus to half a second

    Lets hope they get into it next year under a half new flag and impress and get back some fan support. They started out great amongst the new team with nice outfits, information and everything. But Wirths ideas failed to deliver, possibly because of the budget suddenly being more or less open topped and the team lost a lot of support as they seemed to be lost this year as well.

  4. Calum (@calum) said on 5th December 2011, 13:04

    The fact they seemed to do better than HRT most of the time is an arguement for having points for every place, it means one freak result would mean less over the course of a season.

    • Mr draw said on 5th December 2011, 13:42

      Well, Virgin already has some reputation regarding peaking at the wrong moments. Last year they managed to finish behind hrt and this year exactly the same happened. I’d love to see them in front of hrt in the final standings, but for some reason they failed miserably.

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 5th December 2011, 14:53

      @Calum Agreed, it’s as if Renault got 4th in the standings because they made it onto the podium and Mercedes didn’t. Many people criticise how so many drivers get points, I think it wouldn’t be too bad if more got them. Virgin were better than HRT this year and arguably a fair points system would give them 11th place in the standings.

      • TheBrav3 said on 5th December 2011, 17:59

        Renault most deffinitely finished 5th behind mercedes in 2011 and 2010 m8 Despite their better podium rate.

        • Enigma (@enigma) said on 5th December 2011, 20:40

          I know that, I said that Virgin being behind HRT is as if Renault were in front of Mercedes, unfair. I know Mercedes was 4th and Renault 5th, I was just using it as a comparison for the Virgin/HRT thing.

          • Yamashita said on 6th December 2011, 21:32

            MSC finnished 4th in Canada compared to Rosberg and Massa’s 5th only. If based on no points system he is ahead of them.

    • AlonsoWDC (@alonsowdc) said on 5th December 2011, 23:07

      It’s a fantastic argument for having something like negative points or points represented as characters (or otherwise non-championship points) to those classified who do not finish in the points. It would have no effect on the Championship in name, and to go even further, still use the countback rule for anyone technically “classified” in the table, i.e., scoring real points.

      Countback is probably a little unfair to the non-points scoring teams and drivers, but I don’t mind the official Championship deciding NC terms that way, either.

    • DVC (@dvc) said on 6th December 2011, 3:28

      It is also an argument for going back to the scenario where no extra monies are awarded unless a team actually scores a point. Then it wouldn’t really matter if you came 11th or 12th in the season.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 6th December 2011, 21:07

      I like that points have a high value. If attaining them is (relatively) difficult it makes them more special. Yes it annoying for teams that don’t score at all, but perhaps that should be motivation for them to finish in the top 10 more often :p

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 6th December 2011, 21:31

        Also, I think it is right that points should increase exponentially, so the difference between 1st and 2nd is a lot more than 9th and 10th. If points went down to 24th and then increased exponentially then wins would be worth 100+ possibly. Values that high just become frustrating to look at. I don’t know why, but the all-round ridiculousy huge numbers on points tables for NASCAR put me off- the numbers are all so big that I lose scope of the relative difference between drivers/teams.

  5. Girts (@girts) said on 5th December 2011, 13:19

    Nonetheless Glock has pledged his long-term future to this team which is a bold move for the former GP2 champion given their lack of success so far.

    I think Glock simply has a realistic view on the situation. He knows that many talented and / or very experienced drivers like Trulli, Sutil, Barrichello, Heidfeld and Hulkenberg are struggling to find available F1 race seats these days, while words like “sponsorship package” have lately become even more common than they were before in F1. So Glock can try to arrange a short-term deal with some midfield team without any certainty over the future or he can settle down at Virgin/Marussia, which gives him a crappy car at the moment but some stability and kind of guarantee of an F1 race seat for some years.

    I believe Glock just prefers a stable F1 race seat to a high probability of ending up in DTM in a year or two. Moreover, I guess there are clauses in his contract that allow him to leave Virgin under certain circumstances.

  6. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 5th December 2011, 13:54

    Both HRT & Virgin racing should be banned.In the past teams like Minardi & Jordan at least used to proudce some great F1 drivers (Alonso,Webber,Fishichello) but these two teams are just hopeless.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 5th December 2011, 14:10

      @wasif1 Well HRT has Ricciardo who might become a future champion. Talking about the large gap to the leaders, they aren’t much different from Minardi. Of course, I hope that both HRT & Virgin will make a step forward and won’t be lagging so far behind next year but I also strongly believe that F1 needs backmarkers as much as it needs Red Bulls and Ferraris.

      • wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 5th December 2011, 15:55

        @Girts I agree with you about Riccardo but I don’t think it was HRT’s plan to have them,Red Bull knew that they need money & Red Bull have a driver to feed somewhere so they just put Ric there.I agree that F1 needs backmarkers but not people who sometimes struggle to even qualify within the rules.

        • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 5th December 2011, 21:06

          A rule that is ignored 99% of the time for the sake of common sense. Not to mention there has long been much larger gaps in performance from the leaders to the backmarkers over much more dangerous eras without everyone raising a ruckus over it.

          I’d rather there be more teams racing even if some of them are slower than have a sparse field. We don’t need 50 cars, but a 20 car field would be pretty lame.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th December 2011, 21:10

            @Joey-Poey

            A rule that is ignored 99% of the time for the sake of common sense. Not to mention there has long been much larger gaps in performance from the leaders to the backmarkers over much more dangerous eras without everyone raising a ruckus over it.

            Hear, hear!

          • DVC (@dvc) said on 6th December 2011, 3:29

            Bring back pre-qualifying, and give anyone who wants a go a go?

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 6th December 2011, 11:10

          @wasiF1 The rule states ‘at the stewards discretion’. If the steward allows them to race, they are within the rules. Their is really no way they can break the rule, unless they started without actually being allowed to do so.

    • Mike (@mike) said on 5th December 2011, 19:49

      So they should be banned because A) They are not fast enough, and B) Because they don’t have enough future champions in the teams? (Excluding Ricciardo as they are being payed to race him so he doesn’t count.)

      O.o
      Crazy man.

      By that logic, We’d have got rid of Force India years ago.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 6th December 2011, 11:07

      @wasiF1 Gonna have to disagree with you on this one! They should not be banned, they should be encouraged to climb the F1 ladder. We all know that F1 is a pain-staking process and success does not come over night. It’s very much a 1 step back, 2 steps forward game. From a technical point of view, this sport is always developing and so should the methods of getting into F1. Money or rather the issue of money doesn’t help an awful lot. But don’t scrutinise those brave enough to tough it out, scrutinise the system for making it that way.

  7. Rob Wilson (@rob-wilson) said on 5th December 2011, 13:58

    I really hope that for 2012 there isn’t this clear bottom 3 teams anymore, this gap to the midfield needs to close, the “New Team” tag and excuse is now gone.

    I’ll be disappointed if we arrive in Melbourne in March and it’s the same old Q1 story of Lotus(soon to be Caterham) Virgin(Marussia) and HRT way off the pace and nearly no hope of getting into Q2 and then the whole session becoming about who the other driver to be knocked out will be, i want a competitive Q1 in 2012! Please close the gap!

    • MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 5th December 2011, 16:41

      I totally agree with you. The fact is that there will always be three bottom teams. In the ideal scenario we would have all the teams on more or less the same level where the places are determined by pure racing alone. Would make F1 a lot more interesting and competitive.

    • TheBrav3 said on 5th December 2011, 18:13

      I stopped calling them new teams during this year because they were no longer new also, virgin? have the record for most gp starts with out a point. Granted in different circumstances from the previous record holder but for me at this point you have to classify them all simply as stuggling f1 teams.

      After reading some posts here though i’m starting to wonder if virgin are cursed. Glock is a better driver than most people would say liuzzi klien senna karun sakon or pedro are. Most of the year they have been slower than the virgins yet one lucky result just like last year gets hrt ahead. Virgins 2nd seat is seemingly cursed since the last 2 guys in it got one season and don’t look to be coming back ever *DESPITE* matching timo on multiple occasions both of them, d’ambrosio even finished 23rd in the drivers champ ahead of glock 24th. Ontop of that they have the record as already stated for most starts with out a point a record they would share with hrt had hrt managed to qualify for all the races lol! It just seems no matter what they do it backfires and thats with out mentioning their cfd design approach.

  8. Mahir C said on 5th December 2011, 14:18

    Of the Lotus, Virgin and HRT trio, Lotus seems to be the only ones who is taking F1 seriously. I dont know what will Lotus do but HRT and Virgin will be filling the last 2 rows next year again. You cant expect different results if you keep doing the same things. Do we even know what their plans are for next year?

  9. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 5th December 2011, 14:23

    Does anybody know how marussia is fairing these days?
    Maybe they can poor more money in, which should help a bit.

    And as we’ve probably seen nothing of the McLaren cooperation yet, I wonder what next year’ll bring.

    My ten cents: the ‘new’ teams will close the gap a bit more, but in the end, they will continue to be in the last three palces of the championship.

  10. which is a bold move for the former GP2 champion given their lack of success so far.

    To be honest, I think it’s Glock’s only move if he wants to stay in F1. I don’t think any other team would have him.

  11. ajokay (@ajokay) said on 5th December 2011, 16:41

    I always wondered what results would be like if F1 was scored more like golf. ie. Lowest score wins.

    You get your end of year score by adding up all your results, and whoever has the lowest number wins. Failing to start (DNS/DNQ) or failing to finish (DNF) gets you 25 points.

    This year, Vettel would have 28 points, plus 25 from his DNF in Abu Dhabi, making 53. Webber would be second with 85, including 25 for his one DNF.

    Anyway, thats besides the point, if this system were used for teams who didn’t score any points, adding up all results from this year, Lotus would have 703, Virgin 737, and HRT 797.

    HRT are a long way behind, often finishing further back than Virgin, and gaining a higher (therefore worse) score because of it. Yet because of one single 13th place in one race that was never again replicated, Virgin end up plumb last.

  12. Next year will be the 1st and best chance we have of seeing ‘where’ Marussia actually are. They will have designed a car under ‘normal’ procedures, of Windtunnels and CFD and no Nick Wirth in sight of it all. If they can find some pace, and theres plenty to be found, you would fancy them to actually be finishing in front of HRT next season. No disrespect to HRT, but they have somehow found themselves infront of Virgin for the last 2 seasons in the WCC, and yet havent had the better car.
    Next year will be the make/break of both Marussia & HRT, with Lotus (Caterham) seemingly progressing forward, and the possibility of the RRA on the brink of collapse.

  13. sid_prasher (@) said on 5th December 2011, 17:47

    HRT hasn’t really gone anywhere – they haven’t been able to update the car in 2 years…if they can’t find funding they should just sell the team and let some one else try.

    • TheBrav3 said on 5th December 2011, 18:24

      They have already been bought out by a rich spaniard, I believe the plan is that they will have substantialy more money to spend next year but i could be completely wrong.

  14. Fixy (@fixy) said on 5th December 2011, 18:28

    I hope HRT will battle with them evenly next year. Lotus will be even further ahead.

  15. Valandil (@valandil) said on 5th December 2011, 20:18

    I’ve thought for ages that points should go right the way down to last place, because I’ve never heard a good explanation for why they don’t. I don’t get why the slower teams whose staff work just as hard as the staff in the fast teams shouldn’t have something to show from each race weekend that proves how well they did compared to the other cars around them, as what happened to Virgin this year can hardly be called a fair sporting competition. I don’t think anyone would disagree that Virgin were a better team than HRT this year, but they have nothing to show for it.

    What if there was a season where one driver finished 11th every single race, but there was another driver that crashed in every race except one, where he finished 10th? The driver that is clearly worse would be classified higher. It is of course an extreme example but proves the flaws of the system.

    I remember Anthony Davidson saying once that the current points system used to work because so many cars retired, meaning the ones that managed to finish got a reward. It simply doesn’t work anymore and it horrendously unfair as this simply isn’t true anymore.

    • I’ve never heard a good explanation for why they don’t.

      Because the system is corrupt and is designed to keep the top team on top?

    • Mads (@mads) said on 6th December 2011, 7:59

      I can only agree.
      Of it makes points rare, and a team has to be reasonably good to even get one in a season, but the battle below the points are screwed, as consistency is irrelevant, you just need that single good result, which will usually come from being lucky anyway.
      I think points down to last place, would have its negatives, but it would make the battle for the last places fair.
      Virgin was clearly the 11th best team, and had there been points down to last place they would surely have been 11th in the standings, but because of the countback, a single mistake lost them everything.
      Which of cause can happen, but I want consistency to matter at the back of the grid, as well as the front, rather then the last 3 places being decided mostly by luck.
      I think it is sad that the battle for 10th place is decided by the teams respective performance and positions at a SINGLE race of the season where a lot of the cars in front fall off the road, instead of their respective performance over the whole season.

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.