Virgin Racing has asked Formula One's governing body, the FIA, for permission to submit a new car for technical inspection after it discovered that it had blundered on the design of the VR-01's fuel tank.
The team, one of three newcomers to the grid for 2010, created a lot of interest ahead of the season when it revealed that its car was to be designed entirely using CFD technology, but now suffers the embarrassment of admitting that the VR-01 does not have enough fuel capacity to ensure that Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi can make it to the end of a grand prix.
Technical boss Nick Wirth has conceded that the current tank size is 'marginal', with the BBC
reporting that it is around 13 litres shy of the widely-accepted 210 required to go the distance at race pace. As a result, the team would have to cruise to the end of the rounds in Australia, Malaysia and China as a modified, and inspected, car would not be available until the Spanish Grand Prix in early May.
"We recently applied to the FIA for permission to change the size of the fuel tank on the grounds of reliability and we are pleased that the FIA has granted us this permission," Wirth confirmed, "It has become clear during pre-season testing and our debut race in Bahrain that our fuel tank capacity is marginal and, if not addressed, there is the possibility that fuel pick-up could become an issue in certain circumstances.
"At the time that the design of the tank was locked down in June 2009, its capacity was determined by a number of factors, some of which have since changed and the tank capacity now needs to be increased accordingly.
"We thank the FIA for permitting this change, which we expect to introduce in the early part of the European season."
The FIA has circulated a communiqué to Virgin's twelve rivals, informing them that the British team had been granted the necessary permission to change its chassis design on reliability grounds, with a longer version of the VR-01 now expected to be required to cater for the enlarged tank.