• Testing

Di Grassi happy with Virgin's pace

ESPNF1 Staff
February 13, 2010 « Hamilton tops the tables | »
Despite problems earlier in the week Lucas di Grassi is encouraged by Saturday's laps © Sutton Images

After Virgin Racing had a poor start to its first Formula One test in Jerez when its front-wing failed after just 11 laps of running on Thursday, Lucas di Grassi was feeling positive having clocked-up 63 laps during the final day of testing in Jerez on Saturday.

Following the official unveiling of their 2010 challenger the VR-01 last week, Virgin Racing arrived at Jerez to take part in the second of four pre-season tests of the year. However, its F1 experience didn't get off to the best start, with the team completing just five laps on day one. The car then suffered a front-wing failure on Thursday which forced the team to wait for the arrival of spare parts from England before continuing with its programme.

Its hopes of getting any valuable circuit time in on Friday were then dashed by heavy and persistent rain, which lingered over the circuit all day. However, despite all of the hiccups, di Grassi managed to rack up 63 laps in total and ended Saturday in ninth, with a 1:22.912.

"It was okay. I don't think we were the lightest car on the board, but we're not the heaviest," said di Grassi. "In the past two years, I have driven an F1 car for two-and-a-half days, so I need to improve my driving and to get used to this car, as it's different to what I am used to. The same goes for the car. There is a lot of room for improvement in every aspect, but now we know the baseline is fine, we can start working on improving the performance.

"I think most importantly, the car has no chronic problems. We started the day with no reference from the past, so we started from scratch, trying to find the right direction to take the car. The important thing for today was to do some reliability tests and I think we can start thinking about performance and setup at the next test in Jerez."

Di Grassi said he was pleased with the way the car behaved on track and how quickly the team is adapting to life at the pinnacle of motorsport. "If you consider that the other guys have been doing this for 20 years or so, and they have done at least six days of testing this year and this is our first day with a car that was built eight months ago, I think we have a lot of room for improvement before we go to Bahrain.

"I was very pleased about how the car felt today and with the feedback from the engineers. It's a new team - some people are used to F1, some people are not. The team is starting to come together and everything is starting to become more fluid, so I'm quite happy with this first run of our new car. So far the Cosworth engine feels good. We haven't done the same amount of miles as Williams have got through, but we've had no issues so far.

"We now have two or three days where we can sit down and calmly analyse all the data that we have from today and also take into consideration the thoughts and feelings of me and my engineers, to find a way of improving the car's performance."

Timo Glock will drive the VR-01 during the first two days of next week's test, which also takes place in Jerez, before handing the car back to di Grassi again.