Glock: Underrated at the back

By on Monday, May 7, 2012

Since the radical overhaul of Formula One teams at the start of 2010, a lot of the spotlight has been placed on the efforts of Heikki Kovalainen and Caterham (nee Lotus). Granted, Kovalainen has put in some outstanding performances that have rightly altered the perception of him as a racing driver after two difficult seasons alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren. But there’s one man whose performances have been just as good, but for the past two years he has placed a lowly twenty-fifth in the championship, courtesy of unreliability when he needed it the most.

Timo Glock’s career was going from strength to strength when Toyota inevitably pulled the plug on its Formula One program. Glock debuted in 2004, driving for Eddie Jordan’s eponymous team when it was beginning to struggle. Nevertheless, Tim O’Glock (as he was rather affectionately called by the Irishman) kept calm during his first race to collect a couple of points. Chances in F1 were at a premium, so Glock headed over the pond to the now defunct Champ Cars World Series. After a single season – when he came so close to winning in Montreal – he returned to Europe to take part in GP2. He excelled with the underperforming BCN team before a move to leading squad iSport rewarded him with the championship in 2007. This despite a series of mechanical failures that made the title fight far tighter than it deserved to be.

Glock finished as runner-up in Singapore in 2009. To date, his last points finish

After testing for BMW Sauber, Glock moved to Toyota for 2008, joining Jarno Trulli. The far more experienced Italian bettered Glock over a season, but the German still made an impression. A season of varying fortune saw him start with a spectacular airborne accident in Australia, as well as a hard hit into the wall in his home event. He nonetheless bounced back to take his maiden podium a race later, holding off Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari. In 2009 the Toyota TF109 varied hugely in performance from race to race, with Glock’s performances frequently being squandered by poor calls on the pit wall, such as in Bahrain when the team had a chance of winning. His strong form in the rain was seen as he finished on the podium in Malaysia, adding another with a superb drive in the streets of Singapore. Then it all went wrong.

In a chaotic qualifying session in Japan – it was one of those days that had to be seen to be believed – a lapse in concentration exiting the final corner resulted in a heavy impact with the barriers. Glock was injured and out of the final three races of the year. By that time it was obvious to the world that the financial crisis had struck Toyota to the extent that – despite an apparently strong 2010 car – they pulled out of Formula One, less than a year after major competitors Honda did the same. The rumour mill strongly suggested that Glock was set to join Robert Kubica at Renault, but the French marque was still non-committal to its future in the sport and Glock – perhaps reluctant following the mess with Toyota – opted to join Manor Motorsport’s fledgling scheme instead.

The MR-01 appears to be a step forwards from last year

It’s fair to say that Glock probably expected more after two seasons, but a number of problems have plagued the team. Virgin Racing is history and Marussia appear to have good targets in place for the future; Sochi 2014 (the Russian Grand Prix) is their main aim. Pat Symonds has joined the team after Virgin parted company with Wirth Research midway through 2011. Despite failing to make pre-season testing, the MR-01 has shown good promise and the team capitalised on a high attrition rate in Australia to take a 14th place finish. Something that could be crucial in the fight for tenth in the championship, especially when you consider that Caterham hasn’t yet made the leap forward that was expected. This in turn acts as a warning to Marussia – finding a second may be easy, but those next tenths will be tough. Nonetheless, the regulation changes in 2014 could shake up the grid again and will undoubtedly be the year that Caterham, HRT and Marussia will be aiming for to make gains.

There have been some outstanding performances for Glock, most notably in Korea in 2010 where he was running twelfth before Sebastien Buemi locked up and slammed into the unlucky German. There’s a tendency for casual fans to take a glance at the back of the grid and think they’re just hapless drivers in hopeless cars. That is a huge discredit not only to the hardworking teams, but to the driver as well. Give Glock a midfield car and he’d be scoring points. No doubt about that. Marussia is also working on a shoestring budget as they were the team who were pushing for the budget cap before those plans fell through.

After Bahrain, Glock commented that ‘I had no balance in the car, no speed and no chance to push after the second or third la. The rear tyres dropped off massively and every time I did try to push, the rears locked under braking and I had no braking stability’. That sounds like the nightmare of every racing driver. For Glock’s sake, let’s hope the situation will improve in the near future. At the moment, it’s disappointing to see such talent being wasted fighting for nineteenth and twentieth places. Glock has led the team on track since their inception two years ago; hopefully their first points aren’t too far away.

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