Countrymen Timo Glock and Nick Heidfeld may have collided on-track in Shanghai, but they were united after the race in agreeing that the weather conditions in the Chinese Grand Prix at the weekend were 'disastrous' – and that it was quite literally a situation of 'driving blind'.
The pair – who had both finished up on the rostrum in not dissimilar conditions in Malaysia only a week earlier – came together as the heavily-fuelled Glock fought his way up the order from the back of the pack, and the incident necessitated an earlier-than-anticipated pit-stop for the young German to replace a broken front wing on his Toyota. Heidfeld also suffered damage, with his BMW-Sauber being tipped into a half-spin that caused him to drop some way down the field.
Whilst the man from Lindenfels continued after his pit-stop to battle his way back to seventh position and two Formula 1 World Championship points at the chequered flag – notwithstanding several more 'moments' en route
– his rival from Mönchengladbach was not so fortunate, similarly working his way back into the top eight, just ahead of Glock, before he hit debris from Adrian Sutil's accident in the closing stages that dropped him down to twelfth place in the final reckoning, albeit with the seventh-fastest lap time of the race to his credit.
“In the end we picked up more points from the pit-lane,” Glock mused. “We have to be happy with that, but it was a very hard race, especially at the beginning. I was quite surprised when we started the race. When you're at the back of the field there is no chance to see anything and it's like driving blind.
“I made up some ground, but I damaged my front wing when I touched Nick. It was so difficult to see, I misjudged my braking point and hit him at the back. That meant we had to bring our pit-stop forward by a few laps to fix the damage.
“Later, when I had a clear run for five or six laps I was pretty quick and on the pace, but as soon as I caught Kimi [Raikkonen] I was stuck behind him. I couldn't see the standing water so I had to back off, particularly in the areas where you could overtake. In the end I got past and we were able to bring it home seventh.”
“Of course I'm disappointed with the outcome of the race,” added Heidfeld, “but at the same time I feel I should be grateful I was able to finish it at all. The conditions in terms of visibility and aquaplaning were disastrous. In the beginning, after the safety car pulled off, my tyre pressures were too low so I struggled a lot. On lap 13 Timo hit me, which caused damage to the car and certainly didn't help.
“However, close to the end of the race I had the chance to score one or two points, but then there was a lot of debris on the track, including a wheel, from Adrian Sutil's accident. I tried to find a way around it, but it was unpredictable which way it would go and it hit me. Afterwards the car felt very strange and I lost four places.”
Their respective team chiefs were similarly phlegmatic about the result of the grand prix – one that halted Toyota's early-season momentum in its tracks somewhat, and continued BMW's miserable start to proceedings in 2009, with Heidfeld's Sepang podium the Bavarian outfit's only real saving grace from the opening three races.
“Timo didn't quite put together his last qualifying run, but he never gave up,” reflected Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina. “He twice found himself at the back of the field, but he showed great spirit to overtake so many cars and bring home two points.”
“That was a very disappointing race,” countered BMW-Sauber head of engineering Willy Rampf. “Our only chance to get into the points was in a wet race, but we didn't score at all. We have to improve as quickly as possible.”