Well, they say time flies and after an exhaustive nine month programme of car design and development, team-building and pre-season testing, Virgin Racing's Grand Prix debut has finally arrived. The 45-strong race team are up and running in the ...
Well, they say time flies and after an exhaustive nine month programme of car design and development, team-building and pre-season testing, Virgin Racing's Grand Prix debut has finally arrived. The 45-strong race team are up and running in the Kingdom of Bahrain for the opening round of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship on 12/13/14 March.
The first of nineteen Grands Prix on this year's calendar, the Middle Eastern location provides drivers with the challenge of the 3.9 mile (6.299km) Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir. With 23 turns, four straights, an elevation change of 18 metres and very high track and ambient temperatures, there will be plenty of factors to put the team to the test in what will literally be the white heat of its inaugural race.
After three weeks of pre-season testing in Jerez and Barcelona, race drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi spent much of last week at Virgin Racing's technical base in Bicester, UK, driving the Sakhir track on the simulator. They have now reached terra firma in Bahrain with the aim of leaving no stone unturned in their quest to ensure they are physically and mentally prepared for the challenges of the week ahead.
Timo Glock, Race Driver #24 "Pre-season testing has been pretty eventful for our team. We saw some very positive signs of the potential of the car and the team, but we also experienced some reliability issues and too much rain, the combination of which prevented us from maximising our track time. However, if I stand back and look at what we have built together in the space of only nine months, we should all feel pretty proud.
"Here we are, heading into our first race and I'm very excited. We're as ready as we can be. We're a small team but we have the resources and people to keep building something special together and that is what we must all keep in mind as we progress. We have some great team members at Virgin Racing who know what it takes to be quick and what we have to do to get to where we want to be. Our objective remains to be the best of the new teams and that particular race starts this weekend."
Lucas di Grassi, Race Driver #25 "It's very exciting to be here at last, ready to take part in our debut Grand Prix. It's also my own personal F1 debut which definitely makes this weekend the high point of my career. I'd like to thank everybody in the team for the hard work and determination that we have all seen, especially over the past few weeks in pre-season testing. It hasn't always gone our way but the team have fought hard and their spirits are high. Bahrain will be a tough challenge for sure. We will need to learn how to get the maximum out of the car in race weekend conditions."
Nick Wirth, Technical Director "The past nine months have flown by so quickly, it's hard to believe that our Grand Prix debut has arrived. Despite the challenges we encountered in pre-season testing, we have conducted a great deal of off-track preparation, to give ourselves the best possible chance of a strong showing in our inaugural race. The rest will be down to good fortune and we've probably stored some of that up by now!
"We think that we have identified and applied appropriate fixes to the various hydraulic problems that affected our winter testing so badly. We also didn't get the chance to set times with low fuel or the super-soft tyre in testing and so going into Bahrain we have yet to show our true performance level. Free practice on Friday will provide our first real barometer of relative competitiveness, but we'll only know our true Bahrain pace on Saturday afternoon. To give us our best possible chance, we will be introducing the first of our season's aerodynamic and mechanical development parts, which will significantly improve our pace versus our testing configuration, with more planned developments being added for Melbourne.
"As one of the most challenging circuits for car and brake cooling - with several hard braking corners on the lap - Bahrain is going to provide an altogether different challenge after three wet weeks of pre-season testing. Therefore the spotlight will inevitably fall upon the car's cooling systems -- and those of our drivers, who face cockpit conditions of around 45o.C.
"Our simple objective for Bahrain is to do everything possible to ensure we have a strong debut race from lights to flag. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with Virgin Racing and Wirth Research for their support and the massive effort that has brought us so far in such a short space of time."
-source: virgin racing