There’s a pointless world championship going on at the back of the F1 grid. Not pointless in the sense that it’s not worth the effort- the winner will be in for a huge deal of praise at the season’s end- but in that the teams involved don’t score points. They’re usually just over the moon to finish.
We’re talking of course about the battle of the new teams. It’s been pretty interesting stuff so far, and Malaysia was no exception. Here’s how it went.
Lotus have been on top to date, having seen Heikki Kovalainen finish both races and sneaking ahead of Virgin Racing pace-wise in the past two grand prix. Virgin themselves have had a bit of a shocker, yet to finish before today and with a fuel tank too small to complete a race distance at top speed. The Hispania team have impressed by: a) getting to the gird at all and: b) getting Karun Chandhok to the finish in Australia. They’re slow though- very slow.
Qualifying yesterday was a watershed moment for both Lotus and Virgin, as they got their cars in to Q2. It wasn’t on raw pace, rather on the back of McLaren and Ferrari misjudging the weather, but it was still a major result for both, with 15th and Timo Glock 16th in the Virgin.
Unsurprisingly and the traditional battle at the back resumed. Glock lasted just 2 laps, locking up whilst trying to pass Trulli’s Lotus and hitting the Italian before stalling the car. Jarno continued, with Lucas di Grassi’s Virgin now heading the ‘back-pack’ ahead of Kovalainen and the HRT cars.
Then Lotus ran in to problems. First Kovalainen made a hash of trying to pass di Grassi, damaging the Brazilian’s front wing in the process. Soon after Heikki entered the pits, spending several laps there with hydraulic problems. He returned to the action but was unclassified at the end. Teammate Trulli made it to the flag, but his car was a wreck by the chequered flag, crawling across the line in last and well of the pace.
Tech chief Mike Gascoyne called today ‘a bit of a low’, and overall it was. This was Lotus’ home race, but reliability proved a major issue for the first time this season and the race was a struggle. But that just goes to show how solid they were in Bahrain and Australia, and they’ll hope to bounce back even stronger in China.
Ahead of Trulli were the two Hispania cars of Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna, who crossed the line 15th and 16th respectively to complete what team principal Colin Kolles called “a fantastic day for the team”. To get both cars to the finish is a big step in the right direction for Hispania, and it was a top drive from Chandhok, who came home ahead of his more fancied teammate. These cars are so off the pace that the only way the drivers can impress is by beating their opposite number and at this point Karun is edging ahead of Bruno.
And now on to our victors. The new team battle in Malaysia was won by Virgin, with Lucas di Grassi crossing the line 14th. He’d slowed considerably by the end, preserving the precious little fuel the car had left in the tank to make the
“I’m so happy to bring the Virgin Racing car home to the finish. We had very good early pace and continued to be strong, despite losing my front wing end-plate when Heikki tried to overtake me. We were well ahead of the other new teams, which meant that we could afford to ease off a little to make sure nothing got in the way of our result today”.
So Virgin finally have their first finish. It’s good for the team, who will feel progress is being made, and it’s good for us- no more Virgin losing their virginity jokes. A good result all round then.
The result doesn’t change the constructors standings, with Lotus still top of the new teams in 10th by dint of Kovalainen’s 13th place finish in Australia. Hispania are 11th whilst Virgin remain last, but having got a car home today they’ll be feeling confident about moving forward.
Despite the fact none of them have scored points the competition between the new teams has been a great addition to F1 2010’s many talking points, so expect Badger to keep a close eye on the ‘pointless championship’ as the season develops. Who knows, perhaps one of the new teams will even sneak a top-10 result before the season’s over.