When Timo Glock boarded the plane for Montreal last Wednesday, ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, he was the official third driver for Jordan Grand Prix – a better position than most racers his age could hope for, but about as far away from the main event as you can be and still be in the same paddock – and he was thinking about how to improve his already impressive form in his tyre testing duties. When he boarded the plane for Indianapolis a few days later, he was a points-scoring Formula One driver who had been mentioned in newspapers, magazines and television news reports around the world. A lot can happen to you over a weekend, if you're in the right place at the right time.
Glock woke up earlier than usual for his day in the office – Montreal being five or six hours behind Europe meant that the weekend's events were held earlier in the day so as to make reporting deadlines achievable as well as to improve the television timings, with the European Football Championships just beginning posing competition to the increasingly one sided race series. He had spent the day before sitting in the paddock chatting to the occasional German journalist, but most of the interest, as usual, was with the team's race drivers, Giorgio Pantano and Nick Heidfeld.
The Canadian pits have space for three cars but only two exits, which meant that the teams who were running third drivers had to have the third car running from the pitlane outside their garage. Jordan, however, was missing a driver – Pantano had not turned up in the paddock that morning, and Glock was running from inside the yellow garage.
All enquiries as to the Italian's whereabouts were met with an innocuous comment about a personal problem Pantano was going through, and that the team was hopeful he would be able to rectify it and reappear in time for the second session. His Jordan colleagues ran their respective programmes and tried not to think about the missing driver, concentrating on the tasks at hand.
Glock was in the garage, out of the warm Canadian summer sunshine, for the second session too. The unofficial comments came – Pantano had financial problems and was trying to sort them out with his manager, who was back in Europe. Other comments mentioned a rift between the driver's father and the manager. Either way, Pantano was not to be seen in the paddock for the rest of the day.
The Italian's absence meant that his young German teammate was much more noticeable in the paddock than at any time over the year. Glock just went about his programme, and left the politics to the politicians. "I'm really just concentrating on my job," he commented later that afternoon, sitting forward in his chair in the Jordan enclosure behind the pitlane complex, "I don't know what's going on, and for me it was important to make my job as good as possible, and then we will see what is happening.
"At the beginning it was a little bit difficult, because every press guy came and said 'what's going on, what's going on?' - I don't know, but we will see what happens tomorrow, I guess."
If Pantano's absence was a distraction then Glock didn't show it – he ran his normal programme without any noticeable problems. "I had six laps here to learn the track in Canada, and then on with the tyre programme! It's difficult, but that's the job, and you have to do your best. The normal programme is to go out for five laps on a baseline run, look for the set up of the car and maybe change things, then go out for two timed laps to see if it's better or not.
"And then you start with the programme; usually you go out for three laps with the soft tyres versus three laps with the hard tyre, and then that's the end of the session. And in the second one we do two long runs with both sets of tyres, and in the end if we have enough time we do maybe one qualifying run, and that's normally the programme. Sometimes if we have new wings we might test them for Giorgio and Nick, but the normal plan is just to do the tyre test, the tyre programme."
DC: How are you doing with the new tyres? It's quite hard to work out how to get the most out of them
Glock: "Yeah, that's difficult between the different tyres. The biggest problem was Malaysia for me; when you go out the outlap is too fast, so you lose the grip on the last sector. It's difficult to find the right way, and to know to go out on a slow outlap and then push hard on this one lap, because you have only one lap with the tyre. And it's difficult to find the best compromise."
DC: What would you say your longest distance has been so far this season?
Glock: "The most laps I did was fifteen, and here in Canada was thirteen laps, and that's the longest that you can do on a Friday test because you lose too much time if you go longer. Normally the reason for fifteen laps is (race) strategy."
DC: Have you ever done a race distance in a Formula One car? You would have to be in the car for at least an hour and a half.
Glock: "No – in Germany for the Euroseries it was thirty minutes! No, not really a race distance – in testing I did 500 kilometres in one day and it was not a problem, so I think it's not a problem to drive in the race. Except we don't get a break!"
Glock is just twenty two years old, and for the last two years he has been competing in the German Formula 3 Euroseries Championship. In 2002 he came third, and last year he came fifth after scoring no points for five rounds in the middle of the year due to tyre problems; he and his manager parlayed this into a test drive with Jordan. Christian Klien came second last year, and is a race driver for Jaguar. Ryan Briscoe won the Championship, and is the fourth driver for Toyota. It's funny how motorsports work sometimes.
Eddie Jordan told Glock that what impressed him were some of his race performances. One notable example: the race in Pau started off poorly, with Glock qualifying in a lowly seventeenth before powering through the grid on a storm swept race day, taking a podium with a masterful drive to a third place finish.
The first time Glock tested with Jordan he had a shunt after thirty laps – thankfully for him Bas Leinders had crashed the car on his first lap out of the pits earlier in the day, which took a little of the heat off the German, and a problem was found shortly after with the handling of the car. Nevertheless Glock went around and apologised personally to each of the mechanics in the Jordan pit.
He signed a deal with Jordan at the end of January, just after Pantano joined the team, with the pair undergoing just five days testing on three circuits before his race weekend debut in Melbourne. Leinders was offered, and accepted, the third driver spot with Minardi.
Outside of the seven Friday sessions, Glock has only had some aerodynamic tests and then a further two days in Paul Ricard. "The two days in Paul Ricard was really important for me, to get another thousand kilometres was really important, because every time you get in the car on Friday it's really a short time, and the biggest problem for me is I have to learn nearly all the tracks."
DC: You only get two hours running each race weekend, and learning the circuit takes away time from doing your programme. But after these seven sessions how are you feeling about your job at Jordan?
Glock: "It's not far away when you compare it with Giorgio, but with Nick it's a bit difficult because he's had five years in Formula One. I think when you compare with Nick the lap times are okay, it's not too bad, and even better when I compare with Giorgio, which is the best I can compare to - although every race he does sixty laps or more, which is a lot and you learn so much in races. But I think I'm satisfied with the start of the season."
DC: Some in the paddock think you might be too young and should be doing something else. What do you think?
Glock: "I don't think I'm too young – I think I'm the right age. And you can see it in Kimi Raikkonen, who is the best example; he came from Formula Renault when he was, I don't know, 21? And you can see that it was not too young. I think it's a good way to learn slowly about Formula One, these Friday tests - you learn all the circuits, and I think it's a good way to go in."
DC: Being a German, do you have any heroes? Michael Schumacher is now 35 - was he a hero of yours growing up?
Glock: "My heroes were Ayrton Senna and, at the moment, Michael Schumacher, because he's done the best job in the last five or six years, and when you look he's won the Championship six times and he's rated to win again, and that's impressive. When you look at the free practice, he will go out maybe three times and drive a second faster than everyone else in the first practice – that's like a machine, it's unbelievable!
"I looked at it in Melbourne, and he was in the pits and then drove out, and he did his outlap, red, red, red then bang – one second faster – the next one red, red, red, bang and then in, and that's all. And I sat down and thought, what's going on? Unbelievable! But he's had a lot of hours in the car, a lot of kilometres in the car, he's got a lot of experience, and that's important to be able to do it like Michael Schumacher."
DC: So have you ever actually spoken to Michael?
Glock: "No, never! But I have to speak with Ralf [Schumacher] today (in the drivers' briefing), because he blocked me seven times in free practice in the last session, at the hairpin, casino – he got the blue flag seven times! It was at the end of the session, and I was going 'come on – get out of the way!' When he left the box and got to the second corner he crossed the line in front of [Takuma] Sato, and Sato had to brake, straight out in front. So it will be interesting in the drivers' briefing – sometimes it gets a little bit crazy!"
It did get a little crazy, and Glock didn't have his opportunity to take Schumacher Junior to task for his careless driving that morning – in a meeting that ran for about an hour and a half both Schumachers and Rubens Barrichello launched into an attack on Takuma Sato, at great length, for his overtaking maneuver on the Brazilian at the last race in Germany. Glock, considering discretion the better part of valour, kept his comments to himself and, after a quick discussion with team boss Eddie Jordan about the meeting, went back to his hotel for an early night.
The phone rang in Timo Glock's hotel room at 6:30am, with someone from the team making sure he was awake and almost ready to leave. With the first session starting at 8:00am that was to be expected, and Glock was cleaning his teeth when the call came through. What wasn't expected was that the call was to inform him that he would be driving in these sessions.
"It was a bit hard in the morning because I came to the track and the guys said 'you're going to drive today' and I just said 'oh shit!'" Glock laughed out loud as he recalled the day's hectic events, wide eyed with wonder at what was happening all around him. "Yesterday I didn't believe it and I thought 'okay, we'll just see what's going on with Giorgio' – and now they said 'you've got to drive!' With free practice then qualifying – the qualifying was not perfect – then after that all the TV interviews, especially the German guys, it was a bit heavy today. But that's okay."
Glock was coming into the circuit anyway, but suddenly he was going to be doing more than hanging around and waiting for the team engineering meetings. He was steered through to the garage where the mechanics had changed the settings in Pantano's car for him ("the engineer said I have to drive with that car - I'm not sure if that's a rule, but we did it") and which was under the control of Pantano's race engineer. It was all a bit of a culture shock for the young driver.
"I think on a normal weekend when you've got more experience, it's normal to go into practice on a Saturday, but today it was a little bit difficult because they called me at six thirty, and at eight o'clock I have to be in the car. It's amazing! It was a little bit difficult to put it out of my head and say 'okay do your job'. It was not too bad in the first practice, but it was a little bit difficult to find the right way, and to set up the car for the qualifying, because I have no experience for that and for one qualifying lap. That was really difficult, in qualifying."
DC: Your qualifying lap looked a bit ragged on the television onboard view...
Glock: "Yeah, I looked at it together with Nick in the office, and the first qualifying was horrible – I was maybe a little bit too aggressive with the car - and for the second lap we did a few changes in between and it was a little bit better, but the car was still nervous over the kerbs. It was interesting because Nick had the cockpit camera for his second run as well and we overlaid it – I was fighting it everywhere" - Glock's hands roll back and forth violently - "and Nick was easy, easy" - he indicates smooth driving with his hands.
"I think that's the experience of Nick – he did a perfect job today and a really good lap, and that's the problem – I need more and more qualifying laps to learn about them. It's difficult – last year in Formula 3 we had thirty minutes for qualifying, and you could go anytime and you have more laps than in Formula One, so it was a bit difficult."
DC: You went out and did your lap and then Nick followed straight after and bang – one second faster. Was that demoralising at all? How did you feel about that?
Glock: "Yeah it was shit! Normally the target is maybe three, four, five tenths slower than Nick, but when you look at the TV and how nervous the car was at the rear, that was a big problem – it cost us a lot of time. But I think you have to have experience of the one lap qualifying, and I just said okay, don't crash the car and be cool on the lap - I think it's better when you don't crash the car and are one second slower, because it's not a good picture to be in the wall on your first qualifying! You have your chances in the race, to find the rhythm and do a good race, and look for a lot of experience."
DC: And you're ahead of Sato...
Glock: "Yeah! But I think maybe he'll overtake me at the start!"
The sessions went reasonably well for Glock, although like all of the junior Bridgestone team drivers he was struck by a problem with the front tyres because of the drop in temperature – he changed his set up to get some heat into the tyres, and was then caught out later in qualifying when the temperature rose. It was just another challenge for a driver learning about set up on a Formula One car on his race debut weekend.
"Normally I do tyre tests for the cars, and I've never had the chance to set up the car for my driving style. That was a problem – and we did not have enough time for that – and there are all these small things, which in the end are worth maybe a second. For sure I need more experience, and next time maybe I'll go a little easier and a little cooler in the qualifying, because I was for sure a bit nervous in the qualifying lap. I think that's normal."
DC: Next time? Does this mean you think you'll get another drive?
Glock: "We will see – I think the decision is next week, and we will see for Indy, but I don't know what's going on for next week."
DC: It must be a little tough, because while you must be excited to have a race drive this quickly I'm sure you must be a little sad for Giorgio
Glock: "Yeah for sure, because we are good friends – we had a lot of fun in the first races. And it's bad to go in the car because he was the race driver and now he has big problems, and you can see how fast it is in Formula One – to get in it's a long way, but to go out it is really fast; it's one day. That was hard to see and it's bad, and I hope he'll come back."
DC: You were driving Giorgio's car today – was there any difference driving that compared to your usual car?
Glock: "Normally it's not different because it's in the same car, but on Friday we had my car, the T-car, with no problems and I was pretty good over the kerbs. We changed it and had the same set up (put onto Giorgio's car) and now we have a big problem with the rear, and so we have to look now at the car to see if anything is wrong, but I don't think so because it's the same set up. I think the problem, and I said it to the engineer, is that I was too nervous and was too aggressive on the first qualifying lap, and maybe for the second one I was too soft, too easy, you know? You have to find the good compromise, and that's the problem – I haven't got enough experience."
DC: Has it sunk in at all yet? I have no idea how it feels to be sitting where you are
Glock bursts out laughing. "I don't know! It's... difficult to say... I think I'll go back to the hotel early, go to sleep early, and have to be cool for tomorrow. But I have no plan how to manage the day tomorrow – we will see, and go on to the race and see what happens – that's the easiest way, or the best way, to do it.
Eddie Jordan, of course, wasn't going to stay far from the media when there was a big story happening in his team. "Timo's a great young driver," he noted earlier in the day, "and anything could happen here. I think he's a chance for a top ten finish."
"Eddie said that?" Glock boggled later when this was put to him. "Maybe if it's raining tomorrow, because I had some good tests in Silverstone in wet conditions, but I think it's a little bit difficult for tomorrow!"
DC: Michael didn't get points in his first race, so maybe you could beat him!
Glock laughs again. "Yeah, maybe! Yeah, but points are only possible when it's a completely crazy race with a lot of crashes - then it's possible to go into the top ten. But tomorrow my target is to look for the first two laps because I think it's a little bit crazy in those first two laps, and maybe I can drive the race near Nick. So that is the target, to be close to Nick – but I don't know how the car is for the distance tomorrow – normally it's good, the long run on Friday (in the T-car) was good, but now we have some oversteer and it's interesting to see it in the race tomorrow."
It was early on Sunday morning that it all sunk in, that he realised he was about to fulfill a long held dream of being a Formula One race driver. And it was about this time that the nerves set in. "The morning was a big problem for me because I was so nervous," Glock chuckled on Sunday afternoon as he recalled the goings on of one of the longest days of his young life, "and it was a long time because I was at the circuit at eight o'clock, and there was a long wait for twelve o'clock and the race.
"I was so nervous I couldn't eat anything! And I was drinking, drinking, drinking, but when I went out for the first time in the car and drove to the grid I wasn't nervous any more, and I said 'now you are ready for a race'. But the problem was I left the car and I was really hungry, because I wasn't nervous anymore!"
Glock also finally got to meet his hero, who was now to be, at least nominally, his rival. In the drivers' briefing on Sunday morning, Michael Schumacher asked him if he was going to race, and then after the drivers' parade later the day the World Champion came up to the Jordan motorhome to see the younger German and wish him well, telling him to "just have a good race, and have fun." Jenson Button also came over to wish him luck while he was waiting for an interview with RTL next to Ralf Schumacher. He didn't mention the poor lap on Friday, which now seemed about half a year ago.
And then, at last, there was the race.
"Yeah, it was not bad – the start was really good, and the first lap was not bad but I crashed (with a wayward Christian Klien) and hit the front wing, and that was the biggest problem for the first stint. There was a lot of understeer and I lost a lot of time; it was difficult to find the right way because you haven't got enough brake, power and front grip for the fast corners or the chicanes – I lost a lot of time to Nick, and there was a big gap before the first pitstop."
Glock finished the first lap in tenth before being overtaken by his teammate on the next, and then lost a place per lap before stabilising his drive. He was fifteenth after his first pitstop on lap 17, moving up a place when Heidfeld was delayed after hitting his fuel man in the pits.
"We changed the front wing in the first pitstop, which cost a lot of time, and after the first pitstop we had exactly the opposite – we had a lot of oversteer like in the qualifying. It was difficult to find a rhythm, and then you have to look in the mirrors all the time for the fast guys to let them through and get out of the way, and it was a bit difficult to find the right way and the best compromise. I think I lost a bit of time there."
Glock had a big moment when the rear end of the car locked up just as race leader Ralf Schumacher was coming up to lap him at the hairpin on lap 27, and continued on to his second stop on lap 44.
"In the second pitstop we changed the front wing with less downforce to get a better car for the last laps, and it was better but I lost a bit of power fifteen laps from the end – I don't know if it was the engine, but it sounded a bit different and I don't know what was the problem – I have to ask the guys in the meeting later. That was a big problem to save the engine, and to save the gap to Nick – it was, after the crash with Christian Klien, a big problem."
Klien, a lap down on Glock, wanted to unlap himself on lap 67 – Glock was prepared to let him through on the straight, but Klien tried to overtake at the chicane, spinning and taking Glock with him. Both cars continued after the spin, and Glock finished 11th on track, 0.3 of a second ahead of Heidfeld.
DC: You had two incidents with Klien, and you guys used to race each other in Formula 3. What's it like facing up to him in the big game?
Glock: "Yeah it's good – it's better to crash with him than with Michael Schumacher, because he was in the front! It was a little bit funny, but the good thing was we could drive to the end."
DC: When you damaged the wing, did the team allow you to make the decision to stay out?
Glock: "Yeah. I asked the guys, because I had so much understeer, and I said 'look at my wing because I can't see it, and I don't feel anything at the front' – they looked at the wing and said go, go, go, it's only a small flap – but it was a big problem. So the lap times came back a little towards the end because I changed the TC a little bit to get more oversteer on the exit, and that was good and the lap times weren't bad at the end, and we changed the wing at the first pitstop."
During the interview on Sunday, Glock sat with his overalls rolled down and his Nomex undershirt on, which revealed some strange padding underneath on his arms – afterwards he rolled his sleeves up and pulled the taped on padding off his arms, wincing as he did so, to reveal his already deeply bruised arms below.
"We had a new carbon seat in the car at the Nurburgring, and it feels good for Friday tests, but not for race distances," Glock explained. "My right arm and leg were completely numb at the end, and I can't feel it – I drove at the end (of the race) with just my left arm! The problem is I have two different lengths on my legs, and when you make a seat you think that's okay, but then you go for the race with the seat – I don't know what we've got to change, but it's a big problem over a race distance."
DC: Now that you have 'Timo Glock: Race 1' in the history books do you feel any different?
Glock: "No, only that normally on Saturday and Sunday I have an easy life, and that changed a little bit! It's a big difference, and a lot of work to do for the car, with the press – but it's funny, it's good, it's nice work. I love it!"
DC: And what happens from now? Do you know what will be happened, for instance, in Indy?
Glock: "I don't know – we will see what is the decision for next week, but my feeling is I go on Friday in the car and test, and I hope that Giorgio comes back because he is a good friend and I think it's the right way to think that he comes back, not hoping that he can't come back – I think that is the wrong way. I have to think that hopefully he will come back because he is a guy of the team, and it's important that he comes back."
DC: Have you spoken to him?
Glock: "No. I think I will see him tonight or tomorrow."
Eddie Jordan was in no doubt about the quality of the drive he had just witnessed from his latest driver. "Well we were talking about Michael Schumacher, and I remember his first race; he kind of covered himself in glory in qualifying but there was a problem or he damaged the clutch or whatever, it doesn't matter, but he didn't last past the first corner. I think what stands out about Timo is that he fought hard in the first corner, damaged his nose but kept going towards the end of the race when he must have been suffering.
"This is a car he's never driven before, and he fought with Klien even though he was a lap ahead - Klien and he fought for the championship in Formula 3 last year, so there was a little bit of a needle there. Overall when the dust settles I have to say it was a very memorable Grand Prix for him, and it's something that I said to him in the motorhome, that whatever happens you never, ever forget your first race, and the fact that he finished it, did everything that he said he was going to do, fought at the end with Nick so that he stayed in front when it would have been easy to let him go, and with the agro between him and Klien.
"I'm very pleased that he finished, and I think it was as good a debut as you can ever find, in a car that clearly is getting better but is not a points winner yet. I think the team was a little bit unlucky, with the hose not coming off properly - at the time we were running Nick ahead of [Giancarlo Fisichella] and the Toyota cars, and as a result of that maybe today we could have squeezed some points. But that's life – you have two cars finish, the team is, very slowly, getting better and it's consistent progress – maybe it's not enough, but we have something to look forward to with the new engine for Silverstone."
After the race Glock, Heidfeld and Jordan all went to the Cirque de Soleil, the world famous Montreal-based performance troupe whose charity was the subject of the Bahraini sponsorship on the yellow cars over the weekend, for a little relaxation ahead of a big training exercise that the drivers were to embark upon in the few days, between the Canadian and US races.
Meanwhile, back at the track it was revealed that the scrutineers had found potential problems with the air ducts on both of the Williams and Toyota cars, reporting the breaches to the race stewards for their deliberation. Jordan's spokeswoman Helen Temple was trying to get through to her trio without much success, and finally the stewards announced that all four cars under investigation were to be thrown out from the results due to over-sized ducts.
Ralf Schumacher's second, Juan Pablo Montoya's fifth, Cristiano da Matta's eighth and Olivier Panis' tenth place finishes were all stripped. Timo Glock not only finished in the top ten, he earnt two points for seventh, with teammate Nick Heidfeld following up for the final point.
When he was finally reached via his mobile phone, Eddie Jordan, as ever, put his own unique spin on the result. "Timo has joined an exclusive group of drivers who have scored points in their first race," he noted, "and I think there have been only six of them since Jordan has been in Formula One, and that they've all been Jordan drivers – even Mark Webber drove for Jordan in Formula 3000. So all the drivers who have done it in the last fifteen years have been Jordan drivers!"
Glock himself could scarcely stop laughing. "It's just unbelievable, a perfect day!" he roared over the sound of the music behind him. "The team did a really good job, and I'm really happy for the team and for where that puts us in the Championship. It's just perfect – it couldn't be better! Eddie said I'll have a top ten finish, and now it's proven to be true!"
He then went back to watching the highwire act at the circus – and after the weekend he'd just lived through, he must have known how the acrobats feel, so high up above the ground, better than anyone else in the audience.