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Lowdon encouraged for future

ESPNF1 Staff
August 5, 2011 « Buemi feels pressure lifting | »
Graeme Lowdon says Virgin will see noticeable progress from the McLaren partnership in 2012 © Sutton Images

Virgin sporting director Graeme Lowdon says there is a new wave of optimism within the team following recent announcements regarding its future.

After a disappointing start to 2011, with the team having made little on-track progress from its debut season, Virgin parted company with technical director Nick Wirth and his company Wirth Research Technology (WRT). Lowdon admitted that at the time the team was frustrated, but said that the partnership with McLaren, purchase of WRT premises in Banbury and new contract for Timo Glock point to a bright future for the team.

"There was a lot of frustration not so long ago, but there isn't now simply because of all of our recent announcements," Lowdon told Press Association Sport. "It's quite clear we had to do something because there was a risk that frustration would set in. People in this team haven't just landed into Formula One. There are a lot of very experienced F1 people here. They've come from successful teams, and whilst they believe in what we are doing, they want to see progress and move forward.

"There certainly was a risk if we weren't making progress there would be some frustration. Clearly we didn't make as much progress this year as we wanted to, and that's pretty well documented, so we had to make some changes. But we've managed to retain that spirit and built on it, and now people can see there is a very credible future plan. A lot of people have put a lot of hard work in to get the team here, and hopefully we're looking forward to reaping some of the rewards as well."

The McLaren tie-up is the most significant deal, and Lowdon said that the main effects of the partnership would be felt in 2012 as Virgin becomes more efficient as a Formula One team.

"You could argue we are already seeing intangible benefits because there is a quite clear direction and optimism within the team. That has been reflected in Timo signing a long-term contract, but in terms of when will we see anything on the track? It's going to be more the 2012 car than anything else. Everyone wants to see immediate improvement, but in reality it's going to be more next year.

"What this deal should do is compress timescales. Obviously McLaren can't design anything for us, and we can't take any components. The rules prevent that. This is about the transfer of knowledge of processes so we can speed up how quickly our engineers can come up with designs and implement them on the track. We're already using certain processes and have learned certain things which we feel will help us this year, but we're looking at more next year for improvement."