Virgin Racing’s technical director, Niclk Wirth, has admitted that his team is in full catch-up mode. Persistent hydraulic problems have hampered the team’s efforts to compelere their planned test program. In fact, the new VR-01 completed fewer laps at the recent test in Jerez than any of the other cars.
As reported on ESPNF1, Wirth acknowledged the problem, saying, “It has been a character-building week, that’s for sure. 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 and so we look forward to receiving updated parts for the Barcelona test, which we expect to fully resolve the problem.”
The hydraulic issue will prevent them from introducing aerodynamic upgrades at the Barcelona test this week. Instead, they will have to concentrate on curing their reliability problems. “We will now need to continue focusing on reliability work,” Wirth said, “when we would have liked to introduce our Bahrain-specification aerodynamic updates.”
This predicament illustrates not only the challenges associated with being a young, economically funded team; it also underscores the problem with limiting pre-season testing, in general. As Wirth said of Virgin’s situation, “The revised programme means we will be reserving our full set of aero warpaint for the first race.”
No doubt, most of the teams will need to use the free practice sessions at race weekends as a stand-in for real test sessions. Many observers have suggested that a practical idea would be to either extend the time frames of free practice sessions on race weekends, to allow test length runs, or add Thursdays to the weekends for a solid day of free testing. Thus far, unfortunately, the FIA has betrayed no interest in either of these solutions.