Virgin Racing has sought permission from the FIA to increase the size of its fuel tank after the chassis was homologated prior to the Bahrain Grand Prix. The reason for the dispensation is because it is now clear that neither Timo Glock or Lucas Di Grassi would have been able to complete the Bahrain Grand Prix under normal circumstances had they managed to get so far into the grand prix, the fuel tanks on the VR-01 being a little too small.
With this weekend’s race around Albert Park lake being one of the more fuel-heavy grands prix, fears are being realised in the Virgin Racing garage and we could see a car or two run of fuel before the chequered flag falls.
We recently applied to the FIA for permission to change the size of the fuel tank on the grounds of reliability and we are pleased that the FIA has granted us this permission.
It has become clear during pre-season testing and our debut race in Bahrain that our fuel tank capacity is marginal and if not addressed there is the possibility that fuel pick-up could become an issue in certain circumstances.
At the time the design of the tank was locked down in June 2009, its capacity was determined by a number of factors, some of which have since changed, and the tank capacity now needs to be increased accordingly. We thank the FIA for permitting this change, which we expect to introduce in the early part of the European season. Nick Wirth.
Unfortunately for Virgin Racing, the changes may not be able to be made until the European leg of the championship is underway, which could cause problems for the team in Australia, Malaysia and China, possibly even Spain as well. Should either driver find themselves in a potentially point-scoring position due to astonishing pace or more likely attrition, they may have to park the car up and lose out on valuable points.
While it is easy to point and laugh, especially when Nick Wirth has billed the VR-01 as the first 100% CFD Formula One car (essentially, it was designed solely by computers), it is in fact more likely, as Wirth pointed out, to do with the change in regulations during the design process of the machine. Of course, having said that, one could argue that the other eleven teams were in the same boat, but so far no one else is yet to come forward with any embarrassing issues such as not having a fuel tank large enough to even complete a race distance.