It was only a matter of time before such a headline appeared- we’ve been waiting- and today’s news of Virgin Racing’s problems has made it a reality.
So what’s the story? Well, it seems that the Virgin Racing car’s fuel tank isn’t big enough to hold enough fuel to get them to the end of the race. That’s not to say they couldn’t finish a race, but to do so they’d have to severely compromise their performance. Put simply, this is a very big problem and potentially very embarrassing for Richard Branson’s squad.
The issue didn’t arise in Bahrain, where the team failed to get a car further than 16 laps in to the race, but it’s come out in to the open in Melbourne. Virgin have had to ask the FIA for permission to make modifications to their chassis to accommodate a larger tank. The FIA have accepted this and the others teams have been informed. And now the whole world knows.
Technical chief Nick Wirth was cagy when addressing the problem today, saying: “it has become clear during pre-season testing and our debut race in Bahrain that our fuel tank capacity is marginal and if not addressed there is the possibility that fuel pick-up could become an issue in certain circumstances”.
The new chassis and larger fuel tank wont be ready until F1 returns to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in May at the earliest. Until then the team will have to either turn it right down in race trim or simply run out of fuel in the latter stages of the race. So go slow or stop- which is worse?
To make matters worse Virgin have had little track time in today’s 1st and 2nd practice sessions. Timo Glock managed just 17 laps overall, whilst teammate Lucas di Grassi managed a solid 25 laps on the first session but then sat out the whole 2nd session.
So it’s tough times at Virgin Racing, and we can avoid saying it again: Branson’s in a pickle.
For today’s 1st and 2nd practice times click here.
For Badger’s practice round-up click here.
Got Virgin in your Fantasy Grand Prix team and feel like a change? Click here to make some changes.