Virgin Racing will hope for an upturn in fortunes in Australia after failing to see either of its cars make the finish of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The team had secured the honour of the being the highest qualifying newcomer ahead of the season opener, but saw Lucas di Grassi forced out after a matter of laps due to a hydraulics-related issue – albeit a different issue to the ones to have beset the team during pre-season testing.
Team-mate Timo Glock then found himself involved in a battle with Lotus' Heikki Kovalainen for best newcomer honours but – having battled ahead of the Finn – picked up a gearbox problem which also led to his retirement.
“The race was going quite well for me after I managed to overtake Heikki,” Glock said. “We were having quite a good battle for where we were and it was nice to have that racing feeling again. But first I lost third gear and I was having to drive around it. Then fifth followed and it was impossible to continue. We tried to find a fix but there was no way of getting back in the race, not even to get some important development mileage. It's disappointing but we have to take the rough with the smooth at this stage.
“We just need to focus now on doing whatever we need to do to come back stronger in Melbourne. My personal thanks to everyone in the team here in Bahrain and back in England. It has been an epic battle for us to reach this point and the single biggest thing we can take as a reward was our qualifying result yesterday, which showed what we can do if we continue to keep pushing.”
While technical director Nick Wirth admitted there was disappointment at failing to see the finish, he insisted that there were plenty of positives for the Manor Motorsport-run team to take from the weekend – not least the fact that the CFD-designed car had shown its potential to be a competitive car.
“We leave our first Grand Prix disappointed that we did not manage to get either car to the finish but at least we haven't had a repeat of any of our winter testing problems,” he said. “Most importantly, we now know that our faith in the all-CFD design approach was justified, as we have demonstrated that we have built a competitive Formula 1 car. That is one reward that we can take away from this weekend.
“Finally, congratulations to Lotus Racing on achieving a two-car finish in their first race. It is a fantastic achievement for a new team and I hope we can get Timo and Lucas to the flag in Melbourne in two weeks' time.”