Virgin Racing has confirmed that it will take only one revised chassis to the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend.
The Sheffield-based outfit had planned to modify both VR-01s for the first European F1 race of the season, but as a result of the Icelandic volcano eruption and the disruption this caused to flights back from China, only one revised chassis will be ready.
Virgin have had to make quite significant changes as the fuel tank was originally not big enough to guarantee its driver could get to the chequered flag. As predicted by Crash.net
a few weeks ago then [see separate story – click here
], only Timo Glock
will get to use the modified car this weekend, while Lucas di Grassi
has to make do with the old one.
“Having worked tirelessly to prepare the new car for the race, including its successful rehomologation, it is a bitter pill to swallow that we are unable to complete the second car due to the 'volcanic delays',” said technical director, Nick Wirth.
“Running two fundamentally different specification cars at Barcelona will certainly challenge the team, but as the reliability fixes apply to both specifications, we'll keep our heads down and focus solely now on getting both cars to the chequered flag.”
“What should have been a useful three-week break in the calendar, and an opportunity to ensure we are fully prepared for the European season, turned into something of a race against time thanks to the fallout from 'The Volcano',” added team principal, John Booth. “It took up to five days after the Chinese Grand Prix before the entire team were back in England, so we had to rush headlong into preparations for Spain.
“The planned modifications to the chassis were always going to be our most significant development, but they were also the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we will bring to Barcelona. We'll be heading to Spain this week full of optimism [despite our problems].”
Glock is similarly upbeat: “The last few weeks haven't exactly gone according to plan thanks to the Icelandic volcano, but what this has enabled us to do is draw a line under the disappointment of Shanghai and focus on better things ahead.
“We have taken a good hard look at the first four races and now have a very clear picture of where things have gone well for us and where we need to improve. It's a shame that we couldn't bring two new modified chassis to Spain, because we would have had two sets of data to work from, but we will work with what we have and hope that it brings the kind of results we are hoping for.”
“Race day was tough for us in China,” di Grassi continued, “but we have to stay focused on what we achieved prior to that and the way we have been improving through the race weekends. We had been getting on top of our reliability problems, so we expect Spain to be a new chapter for us.
“This is a track I know from racing in other formulae - in particular GP2. It's a nice challenge for a driver and though I'm disappointed that I will be driving the previous specification chassis, as we didn't have enough time to modify two cars, I hope with all the work we've been doing to make our race weekends go more smoothly we can have a positive European debut.”