PROBLEM-wracked Virgin Racing won’t be able to start work on their cars until this weekend after being stranded in China because of the volcanic ash cloud.
The team was hit by more gremlins in Shanghai, adding to the workload of revamping the VR-01 cars ahead of next month’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona—which they had hoped would kick-start their season.
Virgin would have had three weeks to re-develop the fuel cells following the revelations that they weren’t big enough to allow the team to complete races on full power, with Technical Director Nick Wirth funding the £1 million work.
But, even though the cars were flown back to Dinnington earlier this week by freightliners, the mechanical team was locked down in Shanghai and isn’t expected to get a flight until today. It has been the same for several other teams, stranded pending the departure of Formula One Management's fleet of Boeing freight aircraft.
It all means that vital days of working on the problems have been lost, but Virgin are confident that they will complete the revamp in time for Barcelona despite some reports that the delay means at least one car—Lucas Di Grassi’s—will have to race under the old spec.
Said a Virgin spokesman: “It is frustrating but there’s nothing we can do about it. There is plenty of work to do but once everyone is back we’re confident that we’ll be back on track.”