After leaving one of the largest and most well-funded operations in F1 to join a newcomer with scarcely a fifth as many employees and distinctly limited financial means, Timo Glock has asserted that success in the top flight does not come down to how much money you invest into it or how many people you have in the team – but rather how you make best use of them.
After two seasons with Toyota – the second of them truncated by a Japanese Grand Prix qualifying accident that left him with a leg injury and cracked vertebra – Glock will become the lead driver for the all-new Virgin Racing outfit in 2010, formed out of Manor Grand Prix, who made the initial entry application. After two years under the wing of the experienced Jarno Trulli, the move represents an opportunity to fly free on his own – and it is one he is clearly eagerly anticipating.
“It is different if you come to a team and are, let's say, the number one driver and leading the team, compared to arriving at Toyota alongside a driver who had already been there for three years,” acknowledged the highly-rated young German. “It can be quite difficult to get yourself integrated into the team. It did work for me up to a certain point [at Toyota], but then we started to run a little bit against the wall.
“It will be different here, and in a really fun and positive way; the first time I went to Virgin Racing, they told me they wanted me and no-one else. They were really pushing for me, and that was a really good feeling. As you could see from the launch, everything is a bit different to a normal Formula 1 team, but I think it's great to have a different way of approaching stuff in the sport. It's a great opportunity for me, and I'm really looking forward to the experience of being a lead driver with Virgin Racing.”
Joking that there are 'too many days of rain' in Britain to re-locate there like team-mate and former GP2 Series title rival Lucas Di Grassi has done, Glock went on to compare his former team and his new one, enthusing about the more closely-knit atmosphere at Virgin, and insisting that miracles can be achieved on a seemingly impossibly small budget – perhaps even the smallest in F1 in 2010 – with the right method of working, explaining that merely casting money at a problem and hoping for the best does not always resolve it.
“Toyota had a different philosophy,” reflected the 27-year-old, laughing. “[Virgin sporting director] John Booth never had the possibility in F3 or other categories to have a huge budget and simply throw money at things; he just had to do the best with what he had, and it's the same with [technical director] Nick Wirth. I think that's a really positive aspect to really, really push the people [in the team] to get 100 per cent out of what we have. Everyone knows that we have to work hard, but you need to keep the fun element as well – that's important.
“I'm used to a team where there are 600 or 700 people working, like at Toyota, and then I came up to the team here in England for the first time and there were 120 people. That's quite different, and it reminds me a bit of being back in GP2 when I drove for iSport in 2006 and 2007. I won the championship, and realised then that if you have the right people, you don't need 600 [of them]. If you have a proper crew and proper engineers, with everybody focussed and no political stuff in the team, that's the main thing you need to be successful.
“Toyota I would say was not unsuccessful – we were on the podium a couple of times – but in the end I was at a team with one of the largest budgets and they couldn't win a race. Now I've come to a team which is really, really at the lower end of the budget scale, but they know what they have to do and they know they can do it on that budget. We cannot win a race in the first year – that's not possible – but the future is going more and more towards reduced budgets. If you have to cut down a team from, say, 600 people to 250 and from £300 million to £150 million or £200 million, I think it will be quite difficult, compared to a team that has 150 people and needs to grow to 250 and increase the budget – I think that way should be easier.”
Adding that financial motivation has never featured high up on his list of priorities – “I didn't go to Toyota because of money; I just wanted to be in Formula 1 and go racing – it's all about racing and being successful,” he stresses – Glock admitted that whilst there will be pressure as there inevitably is in F1, it will be a different kind of pressure to the over-arching expectation at his previous employer to break its grand prix duck.
“I think the pressure is different here,” the Lindenfels native concluded. “It will come when we go to Bahrain for the first race, when the normal Formula 1 pressure will be there, like it is for every team, every year. I'm really, really looking forward to testing in February. I would say the pressure here is a positive pressure; it reminds me more of GP2, when I was under pressure back in 2007 to win the championship and make the step into F1. Everyone is focussed, but also knows that we shouldn't lose the fun part of it – whilst at the same time knowing that you can't have too much fun, because then you wouldn't be concentrating on your work. The mix of everything is pretty good here at Virgin.”