Virgin Racing is up-and-running ahead of its first Formula One campaign, but the opening day of its first group test in Jerez proved to be something of a damp squib after the weather refused to co-operate.
The team and its new VR-01 car arrived in Spain on Tuesday – thereby becoming the first of the F1 2010 newcomers to mix it on-track with the established contenders – closely followed by some brand new parts which had been developed as a result of information gathered at last week's initial shakedown at Silverstone. To maximise the benefit of these new parts, the team pushed on through the night and into the morning to ensure that the car was fully updated for its first day on track with its rivals – and then the rain arrived.
Unfortunately, the downtime meant that the team missed out on the only hour of dry running all day, and even though Timo Glock eventually took to a wet circuit at 1310hrs local time, it was decided to limit his running to two further short runs to ensure that the car was ready for a full day of testing today [Thursday].
“We've completed some short installation runs today without any car-related issues,” reported technical director Nick Wirth, whose company conceived the VR-01 entirely using CFD, “A few new parts arrived here quite late yesterday and so the only option was for everyone to work through the night. Sadly, that meant that we missed the dry window and we are not at a point where it is worth risking the car in the wet running.
“As a result, we've kept things sensible and worked through the job list to prepare the car for tomorrow. Timo's early feedback has been as it was at Silverstone and so we all look forward to a solid day of running tomorrow. It's just ironic that the weather was better on the Friday at Silverstone than it has been for most of today!”
While team-mate Lucas di Grassi waited patiently in the wings, keeping a close eye on the data and a close ear on Glock's radio feedback, the German will continue with the team's initial progress before handing over the reins of the VR-01 on Friday.
“It's great to be back in the car and to have the chance to open it up a bit around a few full laps of the track,” Glock admitted. “It's early days, but I'm encouraged by what I've experienced so far and, in particular, the fact that we haven't had any reliability issues on the first day of our first proper test. A big 'thank you' to all the guys for working through the night. I hope they can get some sleep tonight so we can all start to put the car through its paces tomorrow.”
After his own initial shakedown laps in the car at Silverstone last week, F1 rookie Di Grassi had admitted that his new cockpit already 'feels like home' and that his 'first impressions of the car are very positive', as the Brazilian went on to praise 'a strong car and a great team' and enthused that 'it's amazing what the team has achieved in such a short space of time'.