Virgin Racing's Australian Grand Prix weekend got underway in Melbourne today as they took part in the first of the Free Practice sessions in Albert Park.
As is always the case on this temporary circuit, the track was very 'green' this morning, which is why Virgin Racing joined the other teams in sitting out the early part of the session for the track to come good. In fact, in contrast to the last few days, it did the opposite. The track temperature started to tumble midway through the session and had dropped 5 degrees C by the end of the morning.
Lucas di Grassi had a positive morning's running, clocking up 25 laps of the 3.295mile circuit. Timo's first session was curtailed by a gearbox oil leak.
This afternoon Lucas completed two installation laps, by which time the overcast skies gave way to rain. He then experienced a telemetry box problem which confined him to the garage. The fix to Timo's car was effected in time for him to secure at least some running towards the end of the session but the combined problems meant that neither he nor Lucas were able to set representative lap times at any point during the day.
Timo Glock: "It has been a tough day for sure. We had a gearbox oil leak this morning - a new problem which arose and we had to spend a lot of the day fixing it. This afternoon I managed to get back out on track at the end of the session but it was frustrating to lose so much track time. I think we will be playing catch-up in the morning so we have to hope things go our way in time for Qualifying."
Lucas di Grassi: "Today was a mix of a very good session in the morning and some problems in the afternoon. In P1 I was just looking to get the first feeling of the track and everything went as planned. This afternoon was a bit more troubled and as soon as we went out we experienced some problems with the telemetry box and I lost the rest of the second session. Not the perfect situation to go into a race weekend at a circuit that is new to me, but we will keep our heads up, fix the problem and go for it tomorrow."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director: "With Lucas this morning we had a good session. The target was to test the car and give Lucas plenty of acclimatisation laps - which we achieved successfully. This afternoon he had a problem with a gearbox oil line which delayed us at the start of the session. Once he got going again he was further delayed by a failed real-time telemetry sensor, and as it isn't possible to run the car without it, we had to change it. We tried to get out again before the end of the session, but unfortunately just missed out.
"For Timo the morning was unfortunately dominated by a problem with the gearbox oil system. We managed to solve our issues over the lunch break, but it required a lot of work and caused a delay to the start of his second session. He went out towards the end of the afternoon and was quite happy with the car, considering his lack of running.
"Obviously today was not as smooth as we would have liked but we've made progress since Bahrain so the team will stay focused on the positives."