Timo Glock has admitted that he had already made up his mind not to remain on-board at Toyota in F1 2010 before
the big-budget Japanese manufacturer announced that it was pulling the plug – but he has confessed that Virgin Racing was not the team with whom he initially came close to sealing a deal.
Toyota ended its eight-year involvement in the top flight after failing to achieve its Holy Grail of a grand prix victory, and having driven for the Cologne-based operation for two years, Glock revealed, he decided that enough was enough and he needed a new challenge.
Whilst he refuses to confirm the team by name, it seems extremely likely that the highly-rated young German was on the verge of agreeing terms to join BMW-Sauber refugee Robert Kubica at Renault F1 before Virgin swayed his affections – “Timo came along quite late in the process, kind of on his way round to look at another Formula 1 team,” Nick Wirth has stated – and convinced him to throw in his lot with arguably the most advanced and promising of the 2010 newcomers.
“I had options – and Toyota was one of them – and my personal decision was made on the Wednesday before Japan, though I hadn't signed anything,” Glock affirmed, adding in an interview with the official F1 website: “In my head I was probably ready to race for another team by Suzuka. At that time I hadn't any clue that Toyota would withdraw – it was only that I knew my time there was coming to an end.”
The 27-year-old and his management opened negotiations with Virgin shortly afterwards, and the rest is history, but before closing the Toyota chapter altogether, Glock has sought to clear up any confusion about the accident he suffered during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, leaving him with a leg injury and cracked vertebra that ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.
Some paddock cynics suggested at the time that the injuries were made out to look worse than they actually were so that homegrown reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi could get a couple of end-of-season races under his belt in order to put himself in the shop window for 2010 – as the 23-year-old so impressively did – but Glock is adamant that the injuries were genuine, and happily now fully healed, and that there was nothing remotely political about his absence from the grid in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
“The point was that I couldn't race in Japan, because first of all I was sick and then I had the crash,” the Lindenfels native urged. “In Brazil it was not possible to drive at all, and for Abu Dhabi there was a slight chance, but the doctor said there was still a 40-to-50 per cent risk that the cracked vertebra could be further damaged if I had another crash. That's the truth.”
On the topic of the much-vaunted return of his record-breaking compatriot Michael Schumacher to the F1 cockpit in 2010, finally, Glock is effusive, describing it as a real boost for the sport just when it needs it the most – and hoping that on the odd occasion, he might just get to take the fight to his illustrious countryman to-boot.
“It will be great to race against Michael,” he enthused. “I don't know if it will be possible to race against him, but it would be great to fight with him and it's good for Formula 1; it's good for the fans if a seven-time world champion comes back after a three-year break. It's just a mega thing for everyone in Formula 1.”