Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula 1 Team's Markus Winkelhock enjoyed a sensational Formula 1 debut today at the European Grand Prix. As rain fell seconds into the parade lap, an inspired decision to change him to wet tyres in the pit lane for the start...
Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula 1 Team's Markus Winkelhock enjoyed a sensational Formula 1 debut today at the European Grand Prix. As rain fell seconds into the parade lap, an inspired decision to change him to wet tyres in the pit lane for the start saw the 27-year-old take the lead.
As the rain worsened minutes into the race, Markus changed to extreme wet Bridgestone Potenzas and extended his lead over the second-placed Ferrari of Massa to more than 30secs. In unprecedented scenes, a Spyker led a Grand Prix for the first time this century.
With more rain falling, the safety car was brought out and the race was eventually red flagged to allow the worst of the weather to pass. However, as the track dried after the restart Markus struggled to keep his lead and dropped down the field. He kept pace with the tail end of the group until a suspected hydraulic failure brought his first-ever race to a premature end.
Adrian Sutil was one of several drivers to fall foul of the slippery first corner in the monsoon-like conditions at the start. The 24-year-old German slid into a tyre barrier and out of the race on lap two.
"I couldn't hold the car on the wet track and I was just a passenger in the hairpin. So many people went off there, it was incredible. I just braked and lost the rear and that was it. It was a hard impact, but I'm alright, just disappointed. We just have to hope that the next time will be better."
"First of all I have to say thanks to the team for letting me start my first Grand Prix at my home race. Also thanks for the good decision to go into the pits to change tyres before the start. Starting on wet tyres was a really fantastic decision and that's the reason why I was leading my first Formula 1 race."
"To lead a Formula 1 race is something nobody can take away from you - you have it for your whole life. I am really happy about it - I was leading my home Grand Prix! Unfortunately then we had a hydraulic problem and I had to stop. The target for me was to finish, but I know that not getting there was not down to me, so I am really pleased with what I achieved."
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer:
"Obviously short and sweet but good while it lasted. We had the forecast of showers coming in and we decided to take the risk with Markus and put wet tyres on at the start, which proved to be exactly the right decision. We are one of the smallest teams at the back of the grid with the smallest budget, but we showed today that thinking is free and we got the calls spot on."
"Then when even more rain came, we put him on extreme wets so he was in a very good position at that stage. We really didn't need the safety car or the red flag as he was leading the race by 30secs and, as one of the only two cars on extreme wets, I think we would have been in very good shape. Unfortunately Adrian lost it at turn one, as did many drivers, and then Markus then stopped with a suspected hydraulic failure."
"But overall a great first Grand Prix for Markus, it's been a pleasure working with him this weekend. He has done a very professional job and while it was a shame we couldn't get the car to the finish, I'm sure his dad would be very proud of him."
Colin Kolles, team principal and managing director:
"I am very pleased with the effort of the whole team this weekend. Markus has done a fantastic job dealing with the incredible pressure of stepping into a Formula 1 car at his home race, dealing with that new situation and all the media interest surrounding him. To then lead the race in such difficult conditions shows his professionalism and talent."
"Unfortunately we couldn't get the car to the finish, but for a Spyker to have led a race is still a very good showing. It is a shame for Adrian, but as many other drivers showed, the conditions were not the easiest to deal with."
DNF: Accident (2 laps)
Fastest lap: 2:25.798
DNF: Hydraulic (18 laps)
Fastest lap: 1:42.783