MARUSSIA Virgin Racing president Graeme Lowdon is challenging the Dinnington-based team to “embarrass the big guys” in the second fly-away race of the season.
The South Yorkshire outfit have fond memories of the Sepang International Circuit after a productive grand prix last year.
While Red Bull’s Mark Webber topped the timesheets in qualifying, Virgin’s senior driver Timo Glock finished in front of McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.
It was a notable scalp for Virgin, who went on to record their maiden finish in motor sport’s premier competition in Malaysia, with Lucas di Grassi claiming 14th place. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel finished on top of the podium.
Lowdon said the team are looking forward to the grand prix on Sunday.
He told The Star: “We have got to be on the ball and look to repeat what we achieved last year by trying to embarrass some of the big guys.
“We have got to make the right choices in qualifying at the right time so that is what we will be focusing on.”
Lowdon expects the tyres to react differently in the hot, soaring temperatures on the Sepang track. He believes it could be a leveller for Virgin.
Lowdon is also confident the team have fixed the reliability issue Glock suffered in Australia. The German’s front left wheel came loose in Melbourne, forcing the 29-year-old to make his way slowly back into the pit lane. Although Glock managed to bring the car home, albeit unclassified, the damage he sustained to the drive pegs confined him to the garage for five laps.
“We had a real chance of finishing ahead of Lotus Renault until Timo had his tyre problem,” he said. “We have made a design change in the wheel so we should not have that problem again. It was just one of them things that unfortunately happened.”