Virgin Racing team principal John Booth has said that he believes his squad can emerge as the best of the newcomer teams over the entire 2010 Formula One campaign, even if the first four races have been a tough baptism.
Speaking to grandprix.com
, Booth admitted that myriad problems has combined to stifle the ambitious outfit's early appearances, but insisted that many were outside the team's direct control and not related to the unique all-CFD design policy adopted by technical director Nick Wirth.
"We've had other things [such as a fuel tank too small to go a race distance at race pace
], but the gearbox and hydraulics have been far and away the biggest issues for us," the bluff Yorkshireman revealed, "And given the schedule and the lack of testing, everything is done in the field in front of half a million people.
"I've got to say though, the Cosworth engine, service and reliability has been brilliant. It's the one constant we've had. I've been over the moon with that.
"I think, once we get reliability nailed and start looking at performance, we can make progress. But Lotus is a good outfit, pretty much the race engineering team from Toyota, and obviously Mike Gascoyne's a bright fellow, so I'm not going to underestimate the challenge [of being the best newcomer]."
With Virgin reputedly operating on the smallest budget in the pit-lane, Booth concedes that it may be difficult to keep up with as many developments as he expects the bigger teams to make, but points out that expectations are very much in step with the amount of money that the Dinnington outfit has to spend.
"I'm not sure we're going to keep pace with people spending two hundred million, that would be a bit outrageous, but the reality is we haven't had time to do many updates because 100 per cent of our focus has been trying to achieve reliability," he noted, "Now we've got a little bit of that we can start trying to focus on the performance side.
"I think you have to appreciate the size of the task you are taking on and evaluate targets over three to five years. All I want immediately is for our performance to improve each race weekend. [Benefactor Richard Branson] has seen what Brawn could do on $150-200m or whatever they spent, he knows how much we are trying to do it on and obviously he's got realistic expectations."
As well as Cosworth, Booth has also been satisfied with the attitude shown by his two drivers, despite rookie Lucas di Grassi achieving the team's only finish from eight combined starts in 2010.
"I've been impressed with [Timo Glock's] attitude from day one," he revealed, "We've had our problems but there have been no prima donna tantrums. The lad's got a great work ethic and a great team ethic as well. And he's got a lot of experience, not only at Toyota but in F1 with Jordan and in Champcars too.
"Similarly, I knew [di Grassi] was the right man for us. As well as being a good, quick guy, he's very bright too. He's perfect for us and having Lucas is almost like having two experienced drivers."