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Virgin Racing Plans Upset by Volcano

by F1Fan on May 3, 2010

Virgin Racing was planning on debuting two new chassis at the Spanish Grand Prix to fix the embarrassing fuel capacity issue. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.

For those of you that haven’t heard already the fuel tank of VR-01 design was too small to allow the cars to complete a Grand Prix at full on race pace.

Nick Wirth designer of the car and Technical Director for Virgin Racing has already admitted “Mea Culpa” and stated that his company Wirth Research would redesign the chassis at no cost to Virgin Racing.

Unfortunately Virgin’s carefully laid plans were shot down when the team was delayed for almost a week returning from the Chinese Grand Prix because of the no fly zone over Europe caused by the ash from the eruption of the Icelandic volcano and the subsequent backlog of stranded passengers.

As a result the Virgin Racing team head to Barcelona in Spain this week for Round 5 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship with only one new Chassis completed .

Timo Glock will be the lucky driver of the new Chassis while Lucas Di Grassi will have to make do with a heavily modified original car .Hopefully both the new chassis and the modified car will solve the reliability issues that the team has endured during the first four races.

Commenting on the situation Timo Glock said: “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. Most of the drivers know this track really well, because we’re all used to testing and racing here so often in the past. To have a really quick lap here you need to have a car with good down-force as you need to have the confidence to commit to the very high speed corners. I have done some work in the simulator in preparation for this race and we have a good idea of what to expect from the modified chassis, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we shape up when we hit the track in Barcelona this week.”

It has not been an easy start to the season for Virgin Racing team, especially for Nick Wirth the cars designer who had high hopes that designing the car without the aid of a wind tunnel, solely using computer assisted CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) would be a competitive and lower cost solution right out of the box. While this has proven possible in other race series such as the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), with Wirth’s Acura designed Prototype LMP1 winning in its first season, the same results have not been forthcoming so far in Formula One. Talking recently about the teams problems Nick Wirth said:

“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 rehomologation, 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.”

I for one hope that Virgin Racing has solved the bulk of their problems and can begin finishing the majority of the remaining races.

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