And while most have been predicting that Hispania Racing would struggle to make the grid for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix given their complete lack of mileage in the new car, few would have picked that Virgin Racing would be so far off the pace after three hours of running on Friday at Albert Park.
Both Timo Glock and debutant Jérôme d’Ambrosio were well off the pace in the MVR-02, which has a design philosophy based solely on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) design.
Some of the more sceptical in the world of Formula 1 would perhaps argue that the team’s decision to go down this design path is a vain cover for its lack of funding, and at this stage, the result of the Nick Wirth-designed car is one that lacks downforce.
The poor performance of the car in the opening two practice sessions has prompted Glock to raise concerns that the team could fail to make the grid for Sunday’s race.
The return of the 107% qualifying cut-off rule will see any driver whose fastest lap in the opening phase of qualifying is outside this margin not being allowed to start the race. In the second free practice session today, 107% of Jenson Button’s fastest time (a 1:25.854) was a 1:31.864 – Glock’s fastest lap was a 1:32.1.
“We’re not where we should be and it’s quite easy to see that we are not quick enough at the moment,” Glock told reporters after practice had finished today.
“The only chance we have [to make the grid] is that the top guys in Q1 run the hard tyre and we run softs and then we don’t have a problem to get within 107%,” he added, speculatively.
“The target is not to fight for the 107%, the target was to be up there with Lotus and that’s definitely still the target.”
But Glock could be echoing these concerns for several races to come, with the team’s first major upgrade scheduled for the Turkish Grand Prix, the first European race of the season, which is scheduled for early May.
“I hope that the guys who are behind the new package for the car know what they are doing and the numbers are right because at the moment we are clearly not where we had our targets,” Glock added.
[Original image via Sutton Images]
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