Virgin Racing has not taken the step forward it had hoped to ahead of the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, Timo Glock has admitted, with the German conceding that to make it through into the Q2 phase of qualifying for the Melbourne curtain-raiser next weekend 'will be difficult'.
The MVR-02 has generally languished towards the bottom of the timesheets during winter testing, and Glock acknowledges that although pre-season form is always notoriously hard to accurately judge – indeed, more so than ever this year with the new Pirelli tyres – achieving Virgin team principal John Booth's stated ambition of regular Q2 appearances [see separate story – click here
] will likely not happen until the first update arrives for Istanbul in May.
“At the moment, looking at the tests, that will be difficult in the first couple of races,” the 28-year-old told Reuters
. “I think we will have to wait for the bigger upgrade which comes to Turkey, where everyone will bring an update.
“As far as I see it at the tests, we are still away from the midfield teams, and Q2 will be difficult. Especially Toro Rosso has picked up quite a lot of speed over the winter and they look very strong – Sauber as well. They were the teams I thought we could catch up a bit more, but they have made quite a big step and we still have to make a big one. It looks like we are a bit behind the target at the moment.”
The former Toyota star added that even fellow F1 2010 newcomer Team Lotus – hitherto Lotus Racing – appears to have edged away in the back-of-the-grid battle, meaning that for Virgin, the initial goal will now have to be simply to see the chequered flag in the opening three 'flyaway' races in Australia, Malaysia and China in the hope that others hit problems.
Glock also revealed that he is back on-track and back on the road to full fitness following the appendix surgery that forced him out of the final group test in Barcelona last week.
“It feels like I am ten kilos lighter now, and that gives us a bit of an advantage in Australia,” he quipped. “I feel okay, all good. I'm back in training a bit, got the stitches out on Friday and went straight on the bike on Saturday. It felt alright. The muscle is still a bit stiff and that takes a while, but I think I should be back at my fitness levels in Australia. I'm not worrying, because I trained quite hard over the winter.”