Timo Glock has admitted that recovering from a recent appendectomy is making his return to the cockpit more than a little uncomfortable, but nothing compared to the pain he is suffering when he surveys the gap to the cars in front of his Marussia Virgin Racing entry.
The German missed the final pre-season tests in order to undergo the procedure, but has returned to action at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix despite recovery normally expected to take longer than he is allowing. His wound is still healing, and has required a reworking of his seatbelt layout, but Glock is determined to be up to speed by the time qualifying comes around on Saturday afternoon.
"I had to grit my teeth [when taking the cockpit evacuation test]," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
on the eve of Friday practice, "With such rapid movement, it still tweaks."
Despite the obvious pain he is going to suffer this weekend, Glock admits that knowing that Marussia Virgin is likely to be trailing Team Lotus and the midfield will hurt more.
"We will have to live with it for the first three races," he admitted, "I guess we are one-and-a-half seconds behind Lotus and four-and-a-half seconds behind the top."
In reality, the picture was much worse as, although the gap to Lotus was much as he imagined, Glock found himself fully six
seconds shy of Jenson Button's Friday afternoon pace in Melbourne.
The German's first lap of the weekend came 45 minutes into the morning session after a calibration problem with second gear was identified during the fire-up, but he completed 15 tours of a slippery Albert Park circuit before the chequered flag fell, and added another 30 after lunch, eventually reporting that the team had made progress with his MVR02.
“Not an easy first day," he conceded, "I had a bit of trouble this morning in terms of the set-up, and the behaviour of the car was not right, quite difficult. In the second session, we made some improvements, but the gap to the top guys is quite big and that's a bit disappointing. We have to make the best out of it, get on top of it and make the car quicker.”
Rookie team-mate Jerome d'Ambrosio completed 53 laps across the two sessions as he attempted to learn the circuit, and finished both sessions marginally ahead of Glock as Marussia Virgin trailed everyone bar the hapless HRT outfit.
“This morning's session wasn't as smooth a start to the season as we would have liked, but we resolved a sensor calibration issue with Timo as soon as possible and got ourselves back on course," team principal John Booth concluded, "The conditions were very slippery and there was little grip due to last night's rain, so most of the teams were waiting for the track to improve. In the afternoon, we were able to complete plenty of laps and both drivers are doing a good job. Clearly we're not where we need to be at the moment, so we have to study the data and look at what we can do to improve.”