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Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Sunday, 4 April 2010 16:01 UK

Lucas di Grassi buoyed by Virgin finish at Malaysian GP

Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Malaysian Grand Prix

Lucas di Grassi was delighted after giving Virgin their first race finish since entering Formula 1 by completing Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Brazilian rookie was 14th while fellow new teams Hispania and Lotus managed to bring both drivers home.

"It is a massive achievement for us," said Di Grassi, whose team have been plagued by reliability problems.

"We were the fastest of the new teams and I am very pleased to put Virgin in front of them."

The result marks a watershed for Virgin, who have suffered persistent hydraulic problems and who have suffered the further blow of discovering their fuel tanks were too small to get Di Grassi and team-mate Timo Glock to the end of races.

Both cars retired from the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix by the 16th lap and then from the Australian Grand Prix by the 41st lap.

By they bounced back emphatically on Sunday and, although Glock's race ended after only two laps when he ran off into the gravel at Turn Nine after an altercation with Lotus's Jarno Trulli, Di Grassi came from last place on the grid with take the chequered flag in 14th.

"I had a great start and was able to make up five places on the opening lap," said the 25-year-old Brazilian, who got to the end minus a front wing end plate after a coming together with Heikki Kovalainen.

"We had very good early pace and continued to be strong, despite losing my front wing end-plate when Heikki tried to overtake me.

"We had a good pit stop and we were still looking very strong in the second part of the race.

"It was a very strategic race, very tiring and long but I am really happy. Obviously we need to keep on improving but today was good.

"We were well ahead of the other new teams, which meant that we could afford to ease off a little to make sure nothing got in the way of our result today.


"It has been a long wait and we've had some tough times in the past few months, but we know that we're making progress and we can go on to achieve better things."

Hispania were also pleased after Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna finished 15th and 16th.

"A fantastic day for the team completing our first two-car finish in only our third race, with no pre-season testing," said team principal Colin Kolles.

"Again we have made a great step forward. We reached our goal with two cars finishing the race. Now we have to work on more developments for the next Grand Prix in China."

Lotus drivers Jarno Trulli and Kovalainen were last among the finishers but the Malaysian team will be keen to take the positives from a weekend that saw Kovalainen qualify in a season's best 15th place, ahead of both Ferraris and McLarens on Saturday.

"The beauty of sport is that you have highs and lows," said Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer for the Malaysian team. "After the high of yesterday, with Heikki in Q2, it was a bit of a low today.

"It was disappointing, but at least we managed to get two cars to the flag. We've learned a lot and are looking to move on and be on good form for China.

"Compared to the other new teams our times are very competitive indeed, so I'm not going to let this race trouble me."

Other than Trulli's failure to start the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last, Lotus have managed to get at least one car to the finish in all three races this year, a better record than their two rival new teams.

Trulli, who recovered from a spin on the opening laps after colliding with Glock, was pleased with the team's focus.

"Despite that (the spin) I got the car home to the end," he said. "That shows our focus on reliability has been worth the effort."

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see also
Malaysian Grand Prix race results
24 Feb 10 |  Results
Malaysian GP as it happened
04 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Malaysian Grand Prix photos
04 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton pleased with fightback
04 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel storms to Malaysian GP win
04 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Virgin chief to pay fuel tank fee
31 Mar 10 |  Formula 1

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