As uncertainty persists over whether or not Timo Glock will remain on-board at F1 2010 newcomer Virgin Racing for a second consecutive season next year, the German has reflected that his previous employer Toyota walked away from the sport just as it was on the verge of finally achieving success.
Glock competed for the winless, big-budget Japanese manufacturer in 2008 and 2009, ascending the podium on three occasions as he established himself as a credible contender at the highest level. To move from an organisation whose test team was larger than Virgin's current race team was admittedly something of a culture shock, and the 28-year-old argues that in his opinion at least, Toyota threw in the towel at precisely the wrong moment.
“It is different, but I just concentrate on my job,” he mused. “It's working quite well [at Virgin] and I'm happy with it. There are some positive elements such as a smaller team being able to make quicker decisions compared to a big team like Toyota, which is sometimes like a big ship – you can't steer it. What was frustrating was that in the end Toyota pulled out when we were on a good path up to the top five with a good baseline for 2010. I think that car would have been strong.”
It is well-known within the paddock that Glock had been near to a deal to join Renault for the current campaign before signing on the dotted line with Virgin, and he concedes that whilst he was 'quite close to them and we had a lot of talking going on', the lack of assurances at the time about the French manufacturer's continued presence on the grand prix grid in 2010 ultimately convinced him to stick with the option that he knew was going to happen.
Thus far, of course, Virgin's debut in F1 has been blighted by the inevitable growing pains and a sizeable slice of poor reliability, with the Lindenfels native having seen the chequered flag in just six of the twelve races to-date – though progress has irrefutably been made of late, as he out-qualified Lotus duo Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli to secure 'pole position' amongst the new teams at the Hungaroring earlier this month for the first time since Shanghai back in April.
“I think Silverstone showed that our aero update worked quite well,” he affirmed, “and although it didn't show too clearly in the results, we were much closer to Lotus. We could race them at Silverstone, and for Germany we had another step in the aero package. I expected it would be tight, but I was positive. I was fastest among the new teams on Friday, but unfortunately on Saturday it was chaos; we had a massive problem with the gearbox, broke third gear and that meant changing the 'box and going back five places on the grid, to last.
“We didn't get any running in final practice, therefore, and went blind into qualifying. I had a very good first lap, was in front of both Lotus', then came in, changed the tyres and the mechanics saw that the rear right brake caliper was leaking fluid. It was too risky to go out again and Lotus went quicker when the track improved, but it all came right in the race and I also managed to qualify as fastest new team car in Hungary, even though we were still struggling a little on the bumps.”
Praising the customer Cosworth engine in the back of the car as 'really good' and having presented 'no problems', Glock acknowledged that the strict in-season testing ban has scarcely facilitated Virgin's task this year – but he stressed that whilst he is 'happy' there at the moment, with overtures from the likes of Renault once again for 2011, he will only remain happy to stay provided the improvements keep on coming.
“We'll see,” he coyly responded, when asked if he will still be at the Richard Branson-spearheaded outfit next year. “I was happy in the last two races with the updates. We have to make sure that we get more like that, and if the team improves I am happy to stay, sure. I have a long-term contract and what I've said from the beginning of the year is that if I see any way we are not improving, then I have to think about what I am doing in the future. At the moment, though, I'm happy here and let's see how it goes.
“I think the point is that we are a new team with maybe not enough people with F1 experience, which makes it difficult, but in general I think that's normal for a new team. We just have to get on top of it and sort out the problems. I like to work with English teams. iSport [in GP2] was a really good experience and fun, and here it is the same. The people are good; we just have to co-ordinate the team, structure it more and get the experience into the team to learn from the first year and make more out of the second.”