|Frustrating times for Timo Glock, whose Virgin Racing MVR02 is threatening some non-qualification results…|
Such is the lack of speed in the Marussia Virgin Racing MVR-02, lead driver Timo Glock fears that the team could risk joining Hispania Racing on the list of non-qualifiers at future Grands Prix unless some significant improvements can be made on the new car.
After a reasonable showing with the new car in pre-season testing, many were optimistic that the team – which uniquely forgoes the expensive use of a windtunnel in the design of its F1 cars – could potentially challenge the lower midfield, after it finished last in the 2010 Constructors’ Championship standings.
But the team’s form in the Australian Grand Prix was far from indicative of that, with Glock and rookie team-mate Jérôme d’Ambrosio were well off the pace in practice, and only just scraped onto the back row of the grid in qualifying. The drop-off in performance from pre-season testing to race conditions has led some to suspect that the team was possibly running underweight in the winter running.
And while the team is at least better prepared and seemingly better-funded in many respects – at least the new car has a fuel tank large enough to see it through to the end of the race, unlike the first part of last year – Glock argues that the raw pace has somehow suffered.
“We went forward in terms of the whole structure of the team,” he has been quoted as saying.
“The work from the mechanics and engineering side is much better than last year. But performance wise, in my opinion, we moved backwards.
“The others just made massive steps. We are just not able to make these big steps. We didn’t believe it in Barcelona [testing] but now it’s quite obvious that we are not where we should be. The team has to think about certain things and make changes to get us closer. We cannot continue like this. It’s not possible,” he warned.
The tie-up with Russian sports car maker Marussia now sees it with a controlling stake in the team, but it could be argued that that has not led to a massive injection in funds that the team would seemingly need. Worryingly, the MVR-02 bears many resemblances to its uncompetitive predecessor.
And when asked to identify the problems of the car, Glock’s summary is simple and to the point.
“Simply, we just [do not] have … enough downforce, and the people in the team have to realise that.”
Designer Nick Wirth and his crew have persisted with the all-CFD design route, and some in the F1 fraternity are suggesting that this is merely a cover for the lack of investment in the team.
Could the lack of windtunnel testing be a factor in the team’s performance, the German was asked.
“Could be. We have to think about these things now. Other teams are using CFD but mixed with the wind tunnel, so we have to come to the point and rethink about this,” he rued.
Much more of this and Glock’s patience will be severely tested, if it isn’t already. The German has claimed three podium finishes in his previous drives with Toyota, but many more of these performances and his prospects of gaining a drive with a quicker outfit will look difficult indeed…