Symonds: Glock went because Marussia needs ‘every million’

Marussia parted with Timo Glock because a backmarker team needs every million. That is the claim of Pat Symonds, the former Renault ‘crash-gate’ conspirator who – after serving his F1 ban – is now openly in charge of the 2013 Marussia MR02.

Devoid of many sponsors, the new red and black car will be raced this year by wealthy Max Chilton and Luiz Razia, who replaced German Glock at the last minute.

“For Red Bull, one million has little effect,” Symonds is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “For us it’s different.”

Marussia has openly admitted it ousted the salaried Glock because it needed a driver to bring significant sponsorship.

“I have to take my hat off to Timo,” said Symonds, referring to the 30-year-old who has switched to DTM with BMW. “He understood our situation and told us that if his leaving can help 100 jobs, then he will make room for another driver.”

Still, Symonds regrets that Glock had to go.

“He is an excellent driver; with his experience and feedback he helped a lot with the development of the car,” he said. “And he was excellent in difficult conditions. On a dry track, he was three to five tenths in front of (Charles) Pic (in 2012). But in difficult conditions, such as the last race in Brazil, it was one and a half seconds.”

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren boss who this week admitted he tried and failed to help former team driver Heikki Kovalainen stay in F1, said the current ‘pay driver’ situation is “a shame” for F1.

“It is exciting for those guys who can afford it,” he is quoted by the Dutch magazine Formule1, “but in my opinion this is the top of motor sport.

“For some teams it’s difficult to survive, that’s for sure,” he acknowledged.


Symonds hopes Marussia takes on Caterham in 2013

Pat Symonds is confident Marussia can finally compete head-to-head with Caterham in 2013.

Since F1’s small new teams arrived in 2010, Caterham has been consistently the best, finishing the lucrative tenth spot in the championship at every attempt.

Former Renault technical chief Symonds, however – who is now back in F1 full-time after the 2009 ‘crashgate’ scandal – is confident he is presiding over a competitive project for the coming season.

“We hope to do a respectable job this year,” he told Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper correspondent Livio Oricchio.

“Even without KERS, we beat Caterham on several occasions in 2012 and now for the first time we have a long development programme planned.

“We have also designed our car completely in the wind tunnel for the first time,” Symonds insisted.

“We have KERS now, so it’s a realistic goal to stay ahead of them (Caterham) this year.”

Racing one of Marussia’s 2013 cars – to be unveiled at Jerez on Tuesday – will be Briton Max Chilton, while reports say the other cockpit has been secured by Brazilian Luiz Razia.

Team official Graeme Lowdon told Oricchio that 23-year-old rookie Razia has not been signed, but another voice from inside Marussia on Monday said the Brazilian was due to arrive at Jerez in the evening.

Symonds is hoping the MR02 is born well.

“Our pilots are completely inexperienced, so if many changes are needed,” he said, “it will be a problem.

“If it’s born well, everything will be easier for everyone.”


Symonds on Singapore

Singapore 2Renault’s Pat Symonds on the challenge of hustling an 800bhp Formula One car around Singapore’s new street circuit at night!

“The Singapore street circuit will be a maximum downforce track with a low average speed of just under 170 km/h and most corners taken in second gear. Like any street circuit, the existing surface is expected to be quite low grip and bumpy, and so getting the car to ride well will be all-important although 20% of the track is newly surfaced and probably therefore smoother. There will also be the usual distractions of road markings and white lines, which could become hazardous if it rains.

“Before we get to Singapore and walk the track, it is difficult to pick out potential overtaking opportunities because we don’t know exactly what the track surface is like or the width of the circuit. The Anderson Bridge, for example, looks to be very narrow, whereas other parts of the lap are run on dual carriageway. The overtaking opportunities will depend on whether we are using the full width of these roads.

Turns 5 and 6
The fastest part of the circuit is the section on Raffles Boulevard, where the cars will reach a maximum speed of somewhere between 290 and 300 km/h. It’s not quite a straight as there is a right kink (turn 6), but the cars will take this easily flat at around 280 km/h. It will be important to get a good exit out of turn 5, a second gear right hander, in order to carry good speed on the approach to turn 7, which on paper looks like being the best overtaking opportunity on the circuit.

Turns 10 through to 14
A challenging part of the lap is the section after St. Andrews Road, past the cricket club and on towards the Anderson Bridge. The tight chicane of turns which we believe will be numbered 10 and 11 on the FIA map are almost one corner, which will be pretty much straight-lined, with the first part taken in third gear before dropping down to second and then decreasing in speed all the way through to turn 12, which is likely to be taken at just under 90km/h. From there it’s onto the spectacular Anderson Bridge and the approach to turn 14, which looks like being the slowest corner on the circuit, taken at about 70 km/h.

Turns 19 and 20
Another interesting section is turns 19 and 20 towards the end of the lap after Raffles Avenue. Turns 17 and 18 consist of a right-left chicane, and then 19 and 20 are a left-right chicane, which will take the cars through a tunnel and back onto Raffles Avenue. This could be especially challenging if we get some wet weather leaving the undercover sections dry.

Singapore: A unique atmosphere
F1’s visit to Singapore really is a weekend of firsts: the first F1 race in Singapore; the first F1 night race; and the first F1 street race in Asia. It promises to be a spectacular event with the 5km route seeing the cars blast through the heart of Singapore’s marina bay district, taking in iconic landmarks such as Raffles Boulevard and the Anderson Bridge.

Racing at night is perhaps the biggest novelty factor of the race, adding another dimension of excitement to the sport. The beauty of racing at night means the race fits well with both Asian and European television audiences, while the city location will help create a unique atmosphere that accompanies all street races.

Symonds: Renault can finish third

Renault's 2008 car, the R28Pat Symonds, director of engineering at Renault, believes that his team will be able to beat Toyota to fourth place despite having trailed them in the constructors championship table since the Monaco Grand Prix in May.

“There are certainly trends, and at the moment we have a very distinct upward trend, whereas BMW have a little bit of a downward trend and Toyota seem to fluctuate,” Symonds explained to Autosport. “So I don’t think that the race itself shows a change to the status quo, but merely reinforces the trends which have been developing for a little while.

“I think it [the Hungarian Grand Prix] was probably our strongest result of the season. While Nelson’s finishing position in Germany was a better result on paper, we were the first to acknowledge that luck played a major part in that result.

“In Hungary things were very different as we had two cars racing competitively all the way, racing against strong competitors and racing them on equal terms. From the moment we arrived there the car was competitive: we qualified well, we raced well and had to use strategy to get our result. The points were very welcome and in the last two races only McLaren have scored more points than us.

“The performance in Hungary reinforces the belief that we are moving in the right direction and gives me confidence that we can finish fourth in the championship and end the season with the third fastest car.”