Rarely has tenth position in Formula One been so keenly contested as this year. With the entry of three new teams, the number of occupied garages in the pit lane has risen to twelve – yet only the top ten teams get a look-in for the prizes and subsidies on offer from Bernie Ecclestone, which are essential for survival.
Lotus currently rank tenth because the team can point to one P13 finish, the best achievement by any of the new bunch. Snapping at their heels in eleventh slot are HRT with two P14 finishes to their credit. Virgin Racing have posted only one 14th position, so they currently occupy twelfth place in the pecking order. In order to advance their cause, they therefore need to score at least one P12 finish and hope that Lotus and HRT don't trump it.
"We need this twelfth place," says Virgin technical director Nick Wirth. Because of technical problems in the first half of the season, his troop have lost too much ground on the opposition. "We need to give the car more performance and seize any chance that comes our way."