Realising that it is unlikely to beat the likes of Team Lotus and, on occasion, HRT on pure pace, Marussia Virgin Racing is hoping that its improved reliability can pay dividends between now and the end of the 20-11 F1 season.
Disappointed with its second attempt at an F1 car, the team has undergone major changes designed to make things better next season, but has also been showing commendable reliability, with nine straight two-car finishes since Jerome d'Ambrosio's Malaysia retirement. With Team Lotus admitting that it is hoping to get two cars to the finish at Monza this weekend, Virgin boss John Booth knows that it would only take an incident-filled Italian Grand Prix for his team to move into contention for tenth overall.
“After coming back from the summer break and achieving the ninth double finish of the season in Spa, we clearly know the way to continue and we just have to demonstrate our excellent reliability until the end of the season,” Booth commented, “We face the final part of the season with confidence and ready for the flyaways - which we have already started packing for.”
Virgin currently sits on the bottom rung of the teams' ladder but, like Lotus and HRT has yet to score a point in 20111, meaning that its position is reliant on the best result achieved in any of the twelve races so far. Lotus leads the way with a brace of 13th places - courtesy of Jarno Trulli in Australia and Monaco - while Tonio Liuzzi's similar finish in the rain-affected Canadian Grand Prix gives HRT second place among the 'division three' teams. Virgin's best results of the year also came in Melbourne and Montreal, where rookie d'Ambrosio finished 14th, and it would not take too many incidents to boost the red-and-black machines up the order at Monza.
For the team's senior driver, Timo Glock, the trip to Italy is always one to savour.
“Monza is a fantastic track situated in the heart of the town, just outside Milan," he reflects, “I always enjoy driving at this fantastic track as it's the fastest on the F1 calendar, so it's always a real challenge.
"The Variante Ascari is probably one of my favourite parts of the track, as well as the Parabolica, where the real challenge is to brake as late as possible. The track is generally flat, but has gradual gradient from the second Lesmos to the Variante Ascari and the grip here is very low due to the aerodynamic profile needed. Speed is important, but braking stability is also vital, as well as the ability to ride the kerbs. Understeer is also more of an issue here than at other tracks, however, we do experience oversteer in the second sector."
Above all, however, it is the spectators that help to make the Monza weekend special for everyone.
“The atmosphere here is very special," Glock confirms, "There are a lot of emotional Italian fans that will cheer us on from the grandstands.”