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Exclusive interview with Virgin's Timo Glock 01 Mar 2010

Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing. Formula One Testing, Day Four, Jerez, Spain, Saturday 13 February 2010. Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 18 February 2010. Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01 Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, Friday 26 February 2010. Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 17 February 2010. Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing VR-01. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010.

More than five seconds off the pace of the frontrunners, and with just 209 laps to show from seven days of testing, Virgin’s Timo Glock could be forgiven for becoming disillusioned with progress at his new team. Glock, however, is determined to keep his chin up ahead of the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and remains hopeful they’ll eventually gain ground on their rivals…

Q: How long will it take to get the team into the midfield?
Timo Glock:
Ask me this question after three or four months. At the moment it is impossible to judge anything, especially for us as we have no data to go back to. I want to see how far we can go with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) to make bigger steps forward. Then I guess I will be able to assess the situation much better.

Q: Virgin boss Richard Branson is known for keeping a close eye on the enterprises that carry his brand. Have you or the team had any feedback from him about the progress of development?
TG:
I am sure the team management is keeping him updated, but since the launch I haven’t spoken to him about what is going on. From what I hear he is quite proud that the car is on track. He is into new technologies, so the challenge of designing a car solely with CFD was obviously something he could not resist. When you are a pioneer you have to face setbacks at times. We had some issues in Jerez, but in Barcelona it has looked promising, even though we are five seconds off the pace at the moment.

Q: You just mentioned that this car has been completely developed with CFD. How has the on-track reality been progressing? Would you have liked a bit of wind tunnel work to have been undertaken too?
TG:
No. From the very beginning the numbers have matched the data we’ve got from the track. We had a little update in Barcelona, and again the numbers were exactly as the CFD predicted. The big package will come for Bahrain, and I guess then we will see how good CFD really is.

Q: Have you been concerned about your safety?
TG:
Wind tunnel work is the classic way, but some work is always done with CFD. It is amazing to see that we’ve been able to put a car on the track that has been entirely created by CFD. This is probably the future of designing F1 cars. We will have some problems during the first couple of races, but that goes for every new team, not just us.

Q: Have you become more or less confident since driving the VR-01?
TG:
Well, when we had our first shakedown in the UK and I drove out of the pits for the first time, it was funny kind of feeling. You think that it hasn’t actually had any wind blowing over it yet and you reflect on whether it is really working the way they told you it would. After the first lap, all those thoughts were gone. It felt like a normal F1 car. That’s amazing. Every single element on the car - cooling the engine, cooling the gearbox, even cooling hydraulics - everything was done with CFD.

Q: But then at the Jerez test the front wing fell off…
TG:
That was a bit of a shock, but we analyzed it quite quickly and we found an answer to the problem. And it had nothing to do with the fact that it was designed by CFD. But, believe me, when it happened it was a surprise. I hadn’t touched any kerbs or anything.

Q: You are about five seconds off the pace. Where do you feel at a disadvantage?
TG:
You feel it everywhere. In braking, corner speed - everywhere. When I remember where I used to brake in the Toyota last year, everything is completely different now.

Q: Knowing your pace is so far off those at the front, how are you feeling ahead of the Bahrain race?
TG:
Being realistic I know that Saturday afternoon will be short for me. I am quite sure. We are realistic and not dreaming about getting into Q2 or Q3. We will be off the pace, but I don’t have any problem with that fact, as I knew when I signed what to expect in the first year. We have to work through it.