A DEJECTED Jérôme D’Ambrosio was left cursing the gearbox failure which forced him to retire after just one lap of the final European race of the 2011 season.
The Marussia Virgin Racing driver, in his debut year in Formula One, suffered the problem in the formation lap at the Italian Grand Prix.
D’ Ambrosio, who qualified in 22nd position on the grid on Saturday, said: “A really disappointing end to the weekend. I was really looking forward to the race and then during the formation lap I realised that I had no second gear. I started the race but the car was undriveable, so I had to come back into the garage and retire.
“It’s a real shame because today’s race looked like a close one but we just have to move on and get ready for the next race, as the initial signs from the upgrade have been positive.”
John Booth, team principal of the Dinnington-based outfit, said Virgin will hold an inquest back at their technical base over the next couple of days to try and find a solution to D’Ambrosio’s gearbox problem.
Meanwhile, his team-mate Timo Glock brought the car home in 15th place. The German racer avoided the multi-car incident in turn one and drove a steady race.
“Timo had an absolutely outstanding start and picked his way through the chaos in the first corner to end the lap in 14th position,” said Booth. “From this point on, unfortunately we didn’t quite have the pace to stay with Heikki (Kovalainen), however Jarno Trulli’s early stop meant that at least we were racing him.
“We perhaps could have pitted a little bit earlier on the first stop, but overall we didn’t quite have the pace to stay in front. Nonetheless, the very fact that we are back racing with Team Lotus shows the improvement we have made for this weekend.”
Sebastian Vettel stormed to a pole to flag victory to take an iron-like grip on the title race. The reigning world champion sealed his eighth victory in 13 outings and finished almost 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Jenson Button. Fernando Alonso also finished on the podium while Button’s McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton came fourth.