The Marussia F1 team has confirmed this morning that Timo Glock will not be driving its car this season.
The 11th hour announcement, just two weeks before the start of the F1 pre-season tests, came with an acknowledgement from the team that this move was forced by a need to survive financially; Glock was paid a salary by the team and clearly his replacement will be a driver with a solid budget.
Given the Russian connections and sponsor backing that Vitaly Petrov enjoys, it looks very much as though he will be the replacement.
“The ongoing challenges facing the industry mean that we have had to take steps to secure our long-term future,” admitted team principal John Booth in a statement. “Tough economic conditions prevail and the commercial landscape is difficult for everyone, Formula 1 teams included.”
Over the winter the HRT team failed and there were many stories about the state of Marussia’s financial health over the closed season.
The Chilton family has come in and invested in the team, with Max Chilton taking one of the race seats, but clearly survival is at the top of the agenda.
Ironically the Marussia may not be a bad car this year; the team is now benefitting from its association with McLaren, the wind tunnel programme is believed to have produced quite an improvement. And under the canny technical management of ex Benetton and Renault engineer Pat Symonds and with KERS for the first time, the Marussia may well be quite a tidy car.
Glock had a valid contract for 2013 and the lateness of the move means that he will be entitled to quite a reasonable pay off. Rather than this becoming acrimonious, as it was a few years ago when Tonio Liuzzi was dropped by Force India, the driver and the team has sorted it out and Glock is believed to be close to a DTM drive.
* There was reaction from Glock’s fellow drivers: Jenson Button Tweeted, “It’s a Shame to see that @realTimoGlock is off the F1 grid for ’13. No way that’ll be the last we see of him.”
Sergio Perez tweeted, “Mate big shame to hear the news !! We will miss you specially at the drivers dinner! I’m sure you will be back soon @realTimoGlock”, while there was this from Mark Webber, “@realTimoGlock you’ll be missed matey on the drivers parade and drivers meetings chats. One of the good guys, and never went to your head.”