Lucas di Grassi's chances of retaining his seat at Virgin Racing took a major hit - quite literally - as he piled into the barriers on the way to the grid at Suzuka.

Although the Brazilian rookie was able to walk away from the shattered VR-01, the impact was sufficient to rule him out of any further participation in an already unusual weekend. di Grassi was due to have started from 21st on the grid, one spot ahead of Virgin team-mate Timo Glock.

It is unclear exactly why di Grassi went off where he did, for the Suzuka track was largely dry following Saturday's downpour. Morning qualifying had passed off without incident, but it appeared that the former GP2 frontrunner caught a patch of moisture, possibly on the outside kerb, which caused him to lose control exiting the 130R.

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