Virgin Racing team principal John Booth admits he is delighted that the new VR-01 will be able to join F1 testing next week at Jerez – a week earlier than originally planned.
The Manor GP-run team had originally planned to join pre-season testing for the second test session at Jerez, but will now be able to go up against its rivals a week earlier at the Spanish circuit following the launch of the car today [Wednesday].
A shakedown is due to take place at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday before the team heads for Spain for its first proper running.
“The first stage in our on-track evaluation programme is our two-day shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday this week, where we will conduct systematic testing and confidence-building of all car parts and on-car systems,” Booth said. “It was always intended that we would miss the first all-team test in Valencia this week and very early on we targeted the second Jerez test in two weeks' time for our public testing debut.
“It is a testament to our methodical approach and the sheer hard work of the team that we are heading to Spain a week earlier than planned to take part in the first Jerez test next week.”
Booth admitted that the team had faced a race against time to prepare to its first season in F1, but praised the way in which the tie-up with Nick Wirth and his Wirth Research group had worked to get the car ready for its debut campaign.
“Today is the culmination of a very emotional journey which really began in June last year when we celebrated the fantastic news that our entry into Formula One had been accepted,” he said. “The celebrations were necessarily brief however, because we were already in a race against time to design and develop a race car at the same time as building a new team of people and premises.
“I have always had the utmost confidence in Nick to design a good race car, just as he has the faith in the race team to make a good job of operating it. Having worked closely with the technical team over the past 10 months, I know that the VR-01 is the product of a very intensive and thorough design and development process and my excitement at seeing our first race car make its track debut later this week is shared by every single person involved with Virgin Racing.
“I would like to congratulate our new race team - a great bunch of guys working together for the very first time in the pressure-cooker environment of a demanding car build schedule. Logistically it hasn't been easy, since the initial build of the two race cars is taking place in Bicester, rather than our operational base in Dinnington. Their commitment and professionalism has been exemplary and they have set their own very high bar in terms of trackside performance this season.
“Finally, not only do we have a great bunch of people at Virgin Racing, we also have a great-looking car. We are delighted with our fantastic new livery which provides a fitting integration of our racing brand with our important commercial partnerships. All in all, we have a lot to look forward to as we progress towards our racing debut in Bahrain next month.”