Manor Grand Prix – the team that most predict will soon be rebranded Virgin F1 – has become the third of the F1 2010 newcomers to announce one of its drivers for its maiden campaign at the highest level, with the official confirmation that Toyota refugee Timo Glock has agreed terms to lead the Yorkshire outfit's challenge.
Further announcements are expected later in the year when the Sheffield-based concern's F1 operation is publicy launched, but the revelation that the services of the highly-rated Glock have been secured suggests John Booth's boys are serious indeed about their new endeavour.
Consistent and fast throughout his two seasons at Toyota – even if he missed the final two races of 2009 as a result of injuries sustained in his Japanese Grand Prix qualifying shunt – the young German has notched up a trio of podiums and been a match for his rapid team-mate Jarno Trulli, meaning he ticks all of the boxes for a team seeking an experienced hand as it bids to find its feet in a brave new world.
“I had several options for 2010,” confessed the 27-year-old Lindenfels native, “some of them with more established teams. Every driver has the same overall objective – to win the world championship one day – but the way I want to succeed is to be part of the process of building a team and to play a key role in developing the car. This is why the opportunity with Manor Grand Prix is so exciting for me.
“I have spent a lot of time with Nick Wirth, John Booth and other members of the team, and what I liked most is that this a real racing team run by true racers. The team may be small and new, but it has big ambitions and a very impressive car and development programme. I am confident that I can play a big role in terms of my technical input, and that's a fantastic opportunity for me. I can't wait to start testing the new car early next year!”
“I'm absolutely delighted that Timo has chosen to drive for our team,” echoed technical director Wirth, who ran the short-lived Simtek effort back in 1994 and 1995. “It has always been my recommendation that we have at least one driver with experience of the 2009 cars to help our development programme, but to get a driver that has not only achieved podium finishes in 2009 but has such proven talent and the potential to take us forward for many years is very exciting.
“The fact that he has come and seen all aspects of the project before making his decision speaks volumes about what we have achieved so far, [and] progress on our new car continues to be very encouraging. The first fully-finished monocoque was completed a week ago, and we've been crash testing all areas of the car since May. I think we'll have the bulk of the official FIA tests done by Christmas, bang on our schedule. Now we just can't wait to get Timo into the new car once track testing begins next year!”
It is anticipated that a young driver – possibly a rookie like reigning A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Champion Adam Carroll or established GP2 Series front-runner and Renault test driver Lucas di Grassi – will occupy the second cockpit, but Glock's signing does pose one intriguing question. Many had surmised that the 2006 GP2 Champion was all-but a shoo-in for Renault – so does his unexpected move to Manor suggest that the French manufacturer, which already has ex BMW-Sauber ace Robert Kubica on its books for next year, is planning to pull the plug on its involvement after all..?
Of the other new teams, Campos has snapped up 2008 GP2 runner-up Bruno Senna, whilst Malaysian-backed Lotus has announced an unnamed signing to lead its bid. Only USF1 has yet to firm up any drivers for next year.