Virgin: Hydraulic issues have cost us dear 22 Feb 2010
Virgin technical director Nick Wirth has lamented the reliability problems which have severely limited his teams pre-season testing. Drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi managed to cover just 144 laps between them at last weeks four-day Jerez test, after the VR-01 repeatedly succumbed to hydraulic issues.
To put that figure into context, fellow 2010 newcomers, Lotus, racked up 315 laps during the test at the Spanish track, with driver Jarno Trulli covering 141 laps on Friday. Ferrari, meanwhile, have completed 1,235 laps over the three test sessions they have attended so far this year.
It has been a character-building week, thats for sure, said Wirth. Despite our best efforts to cure the hydraulic problem which has beset our entire test, this was simply not achievable with the components that we had available in the field. The specific problem is that we have been losing hydraulic oil at a rate which has limited the number of laps we can achieve on each run.
Although Wirth admits the lack of running has meant the team have lost a lot of ground in their pre-season schedule, he remains optimistic they will be able to find a solution ahead of the final test at Barcelonas Circuit de Catalunya later this week.
We are looking forward to receiving updated parts for the Barcelona test, which we expect to fully resolve the problem, he explained. Having said that, we will now need to continue focusing on reliability work when we would have liked to introduce our Bahrain-specification aerodynamic updates. The revised programme means we will be reserving our full set of aero war paint for the first race.
Despite their testing difficulties, Wirth remains confident the VR-01 has enough inherent pace to compete on an equal footing with its rivals once the season begins.
On a positive note, despite these issues, we have actually completed a lot of good race preparation work and it is satisfying to see the cars potential with minimum set-up changes or development, bearing in mind that we have consistently run with a healthy amount of fuel, he concluded.
Indeed, none of our lap times have been achieved with anything close to qualifying fuel and therefore we are not letting the frustrations in one specific area overshadow what has generally been an encouraging start to our development programme.
Virgin will be back in action for four days from Thursday, as the final pre-season test gets underway in Barcelona.