Virgin Racing team principal John Booth says he is hopeful that the F1 newcomers will benefit from one of the final upgrades planned for the VR-01 as it prepares to make its first appearance in the Singapore Grand Prix.
While the team has already started work on its 2011 car, a number of upgrades are being taken to Singapore for this weekend's race with the prospect of more to follow in Japan next time out.
With the fight to secure tenth in the constructors championship, and the vital windfall that will follow, at a crucial stage, Booth said the team was hoping to continue with the progress seen in recent events as it looks to try and get ahead of Lotus in the standings.
“Everyone at Virgin Racing is looking forward to our first Singapore Grand Prix and therefore our first night race,” he said. “Timo obviously has two years' experience under his belt so the insights he has provided us with have been invaluable, as have the perspectives of some of our team members who have been racing here previously. We are very excited about the challenge ahead. The team will have to ignore their body clocks and learn to cope with starting work at 14.00 and going to sleep at 05.00, but they are a tough bunch who have not been averse to working unusual hours in our debut season!
“For the next two races we will have what will probably be the final significant update for the VR-01. We will of course tailor the package to suit the individual characteristics of the four other remaining circuits, but equally it is now full steam ahead back at our technical base as we focus on our 2011 challenger. We hope the update will be sufficient to maintain the current trend of closing the gap to the midfield teams and maintain our very narrow advantage over our great rivals Lotus. Our battle with them has been very tough from the very first race and I hope it has added an extra dimension to the racing for the fans. We've certainly enjoyed it.”
While Timo Glock has competed at Singapore in the past, team-mate Lucas di Grassi will be making his debut in the event and the Brazilian admitted his job had been made difficult by the announcement that Jerome D'Ambrosio will take part in the first free practice session on Friday.
“This will be the first time I have driven the Singapore Street Circuit,” he said. “I have done a lot of work in the simulator with our new developments and now I just look forward to laying my first night race experience on top of that. Obviously I will lose some track time as I am not participating in the FP1 session, so I will have a lot of work to do to get up to speed from FP2 in terms of getting used to the track and also with set-up work.
“We have an upgrade for this and the remaining races and the package looks pretty positive, so we'll be pushing hard to get the most from the weekend and keep our immediate competitors behind us.”