Lucas di Grassi will have to settle for the earlier version of the VR-01
Virgin have said that they have only been able to update Timo Glock’s VR-01, which features a larger fuel tank, in time for the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
This means that Lucas di Grassi will be forced to drive the older version of the Virgin car, with the undersized fuel tank. The team, however, blame the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic flight disruption for holding up their development programme:
"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”. 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. As a new team
we will be using new trucks and a new motorhome for the first time
and on top of that we moved into our new race preparation facility
while the team were stranded in China, so we certainly had a lot
going on for us when we finally made it home.
Nonetheless, the team have done an admirable job and we’ll be
heading to Spain this week full of optimism for the next phase of
our debut season."
“The designer of the car, Nick Wirth, added:
Since Shanghai, we have conducted an extensive investigation into
the failures that halted the obvious progress the team has been
making since its debut. That investigation has highlighted a number
of issues that are currently being addressed by the race team,
Wirth Research and our key suppliers and our continuing aim is
to put an end to the reliability issues that have dominated our
Grand Prix debut.
Having worked tirelessly to prepare the new car for the race,
including its successful re-homologation, it is a bitter pill
to swallow that we are unable to complete the second car due
to the “volcanic delays”. 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 on getting both cars
to the chequered flag."
It really is a shame that they can’t fully sort out their fuel tank issue yet, but I have to feel that the volcanic disruption is just an excuse for them not being able to make the changes in time themselves. Even after this, there may still be hydraulic problems with the car, so I’m not expecting a Virgin to get to the finish in Spain.