Marussia Virgin Racing's second season in Formula One got underway today in seasonably changeable conditions. Autumnal Melbourne has been cold and cloudy for the past couple of days with bursts of sunshine making only the briefest of appearances.
The track was damp after overnight rain as Timo Glock and Jerome D'Ambrosio took to Albert Park Circuit for the first two practice sessions of the weekend. In his first track session as a fully fledged Grand Prix race driver, Jerome was first out of the garage to commence his installation lap. Timo's came 45 minutes later after a calibration problem with second gear was identified during the fire-up.
The main difficulty for the drivers In the first 90-minute Free Practice session was the lack of grip. Jerome completed the first 17 laps of his first season in Formula One and started to familiarise himself with a track that he has never raced at before. Timo, who counts Albert Park as one of his favourite circuits, completed 15 laps.
This afternoon it remained cloudy and it even rained slightly during the second session, but the track conditions improved due to the increasing amount of rubber going down on the circuit and both drivers were able to improve upon their morning lap times. Timo completed a further 30 laps and Jerome added another 36 to the team's tally, bringing the combined total to 98 laps during the day and demonstrating a reliable baseline from which to build during the remainder of the weekend. During the last minutes of the session it rained more intensely and the track was declared wet, making the conditions very tricky for the drivers.
Timo Glock: "Not an easy first day. I had a bit of trouble this morning in terms of the setup, 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."
Jerome D'Ambrosio: "Today has been something very special for me for sure. I have been racing since I was eight years old so today is a dream come true. It was very exciting to drive out of the garage this morning and also to drive here in Albert Park for the first time. It's a fantastic track and I like it very much, so a lot of great things to be happy with. We have some work to do to improve, that is clear, but this is only the beginning. We showed that we could make progress through both sessions so we have to get the best out of the package we have here and then keep pushing to improve."
John Booth, Team Principal: "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. 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. Congratulations to Jerome on a great debut today."
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