The Virgin Racing team heads to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix fervently hoping that it has found a solution to the problems that derailed its Formula One debut in the deserts of Bahrain two weekends ago.
Having endured the usual teething troubles with its VR-01 in testing, the team believed it had overcome the niggles that restricted track time for Timo Glock and debutant Lucas di Grassi, only to find a new set of gremlins in the works at the opening round. Now, despite the 'flyaway' nature of the first month of F1 action, the British squad is confident that it has found a cure for the latest woes, which will allow it to compete with main rival Lotus throughout the Albert Park event.
“It was disappointing to end our debut race with two retirements, but we take a lot of encouragement from knowing that our issues are specific and isolated, which means they are easily addressed," technical director Nick Wirth commented, "No one said the first few races would be easy, and Bahrain was gruelling to say the least, but far better to flush out the problems early on and deal with them - and that is exactly what we have been doing in the two week gap between these two races.
"We have some new parts which we hope will provide a robust solution to the new hydraulic problem and transmission issue we experienced in Bahrain. Melbourne represents a new and different challenge, and isn't an easy track to contend with because it's a street circuit. It lacks grip on Friday before its starts to rubber in, but the track conditions can change from session to session.
"The lap is full of stops and starts, so we have to manage the brakes and also the track surface is quite bumpy. All of these factors conspire to make car set-up quite a challenge, but it's one we're looking forward to. We saw some very positive signs in terms of our qualifying and race pace [in Bahrain], and the drivers and engineers have done their homework on our simulators back at Wirth Research, so we are looking to build on the performance level seen in Bahrain and ensure that both cars get to cross the finish line.”
Melbourne is indeed a far cry from the scene of Virgin Racing's debut in the desert two weeks ago, which di Grassi summed up perfectly when asked if it was likely to be a race the team would always remember.
“How could we forget?” he asked, surrounded by Virgin's trusty team of mechanics, for whom sleep was a dim and distant memory, "I was really pleased with my debut qualifying and race start but, obviously, I want to carry that through to the race now.
“I've been to Australia a few times but I've never raced at Albert Park before, so it will be an interesting weekend! I can't wait to get back in the car again."
While race one was a momentous occasion, it was one that ultimately ended in disappointment after hydraulic and transmission problems blighted the weekend, but lead driver Timo Glock is optimistic that better fortune is in store 'down under'.
“We had a tough time in Bahrain, but there were some positives too," the German insisted, "We learnt some good lessons which can only make us stronger. The main target is to do everything we can to ensure reliability doesn't stop us from making it to the flag. Hopefully we'll get another strong qualy in the bag too.
“Australia is usually a good race. Melbourne's a great city and I look forward to it every year as it's one of the best weekends on the F1 calendar. The track itself is a street course, very different from a race track, and quite special, so I'm hoping it will bring us good luck."