Heikki Kovalainen has told Virgin to abandon its policy of developing Formula One cars with only computer-simulation technology.
After a difficult 2010 debut, the British team has fallen even further off the pace this season and in China was almost matched by the struggling HRT.
Car designer Nick Wirth heads Wirth Research, a company claiming to "pioneer the use of advanced virtual engineering technologies" which "reduces the need for costly and wasteful development models and prototype manufacture".
But Virgin's 2010 rival Lotus is pulling away this year and that team's Finnish driver Kovalainen told Auto Motor und Sport: "If Adrian Newey works with a wind tunnel, then all the others must do the same."
If Adrian Newey works with a wind tunnel, then all the others must do the same
Virgin's situation has buoyed the spirits of HRT, whose Narain Karthikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi both failed to qualify in Australia, where it was announced that the Spanish team is now renting one of Mercedes' unused tunnels.
"Qualifying shouldn't be an issue any more," Indian Karthikeyan said in Shanghai. "Our target is now to get closer to Virgin."