Hispania: We had the beating of Virgin

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HISPANIA’S Vitantonio Liuzzi claims he could have finished ahead of both Marussia Virgin Racing drivers in the Spanish Grand Prix had he avoided a gearbox issue.

The Italian, who qualified in front of Virgin’s Jerome d’Ambrosio, also leapfrogged the Dinnington team’s Timo Glock on the first lap.

However, Liuzzi was forced to retire on lap 28 of the race in Barcelona two days ago due to a gearbox problem.

He said: “I also started feeling issues with the upshift, it was getting worse and worse and eventually had to stop. We have to investigate why this happened but it’s still too early to say what the reason was.

“It’s a real shame because without this issue we could’ve had better pace for the second stint and fight with the Virgins until the end.”

Ultimately, Glock and d’Ambrosio passed the Hispania’s to finish 19th and 20th respectively. It was the fourth time in five races d’Ambrosio, who’s future remains clouded in uncertainty because of a sponsorship shortfall, had brought the Virgin MRV-02 car home.

Should d’Ambrosio’s sponsors not pay up, Virgin are believed to be interested in recruiting Robert Wickens as their second driver. The highly-rated Canadian is backed by the Yorkshire team’s Russian sponsor and shareholder Marussia and drives in the Formula Renault 3.5 series.

Graeme Lowdon, Virgin’s president, recently told The Star: “We are not forcing the sponsors to pay up. We have an agreement with them in place and I don’t see any reason why that won’t be kept.”

Although Virgin are second from bottom in the constructors championship, d’Ambrosio says he is enjoying his time with the team and is looking forward to the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.

D’Ambrosio praised the three-pit stop strategy in Spain and added: “I had some good stints with not too much traffic so overall I’m quite pleased.”