Following yesterdays embarrassing admission from Virgin Racing that it’s fuel tank was not big enough to enable either car to finish a race, the team backer Sir Richard Branson said he still remains committed to the team.
“I think all of us around this table know that Nick has managed to get a car that is the fastest of the new cars, but there is an issue here that is going to take a few races to fix. It will actually give the car some time to have some practice time – because the new cars were given so little practice time. Over the next five races we will learn more and more about the car.”
Chief designer Nick Wirth revealed earlier in the week that the issue was first noticed during pre-season testing. “It has become clear during pre-season testing and our debut race in Bahrain that our fuel tank capacity is marginal. If not addressed there is the possibility that fuel pick-up could become an issue in certain circumstances.”
Indeed, after qualifying, Timo Glock revealed fuel pick-up issues were the reason the team were lagging over a second behind rivals Lotus F1. “We were carrying more fuel than we would have liked because of a pick-up problem, otherwise I think we would have been able to have more of a fight with Lotus.”
Virgin racing have now asked the FIA for permission to submit a new chassis for inspection, although that will not be available until the 5th round of the season in Barcelona. It is understood that this permission has been granted although some teams are unhappy at the precedent that this will set. In the meantime, the team will have to run the engines very lean during the following races to stand a chance of completing a race distance. Reliability has been the main gremlin that the Virgin Racing cars have had so it is not expected that any of the cars will be able to reach the full race distance anyway.
James Allen notes how strange that this situation has come about. “The fuel cells are an outsourced component and are produced for the team by a company called Premier. Most F1 teams use cells from ATL. Teams request cells of different sizes depending on their fuel consumption figures, but Cosworth, which powers Virgin as well as three other teams, will have been very specific with all its customers about the fuel required by its engine.”
Nick Wirth has insisted that his CFD approach was not to blame for this error, however his critics will be quick to point out the team needs to change its approach if it to race competitively as the season progresses.