Di Grassi: Too early to judge performance

Lucas di Grassi is keen to do as much mileage as possible in the final day of the second F1 test tomorrow after completing just eight laps in the Virgin VR-01 today.

Di Grassi told F1 Fanatic:

It was a bit frustrating to only do eight laps because the important thing for us at the moment is to do as much mileage as possible.

It’s a new car, new components, new everything so we need to do mileage. The wing problem yesterday didn’t help and today the weather also didn’t help so I’m looking forward to having the opportunity tomorrow to do as much mileage as possible and in the next tests.
Lucas di Grassi

The Virgin VR-01 only made it onto the track 90 minutes before the end of the session as the team shipped in and fitted new parts to the car to replace the broken front wing Timo Glock suffered yesterday.

By this time the rain was falling hard, limiting the amount of running di Grassi could do. He said:

The weather looks not so good tomorrow but we need to start doing some mileage before we can work on performance.

We’ve been running the car only in the wet so far, the ideal is to do some dry runs to check the wear of the components in the right environment because the forces are much higher in the dry. More G-force, harder braking and so on.

We did eight laps today just to check the car, we weren’t running for performance at all. Step by step, we’re going to start working on performance and reliability to arrive ready for the first race.

Of course we are realistic so the target now is to have a reliable car for the first race.
Lucas di Grassi

This was his second time in the car having participated in the shakedown run at Silverstone last week. Di Grassi says he is not yet completely comfortable in the VR-01:

The car is not 100% comfortable, it’s quite small for me, I’m a bit bigger than Timo. But it’s fine.

It’s just a question of doing a few more laps. In testing last year I did one and a half days to I need more kilometres to get more used to a Formula 1 car.
Lucas di Grassi

Before getting the seat at Virgin di Grassi drove for Renault in the young drivers’ test at Jerez last December. He said there weren’t many similarities between driving the R29 and the VR-01:

It’s completely different. Renault is a world championship winning team so it was completely different from the drivers’ point of view of just sitting down and driving with a team that is established.

The other difference is being able to follow the development of the car from the beginning and being able to do a lot of days and prepare the car so it’s a very different environment for me.
Lucas di Grassi

There could be as many as four Brazilian drivers in F1 this year with di Grassi joining fellow newcomer Bruno Senna and existing drivers Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello. Di Grassi said of his compatriots:

We have a very good relationship off the track – I’m living in the same building as Felipe in Monaco. And I used to live in the same building as Bruno a couple of years ago in London.

So we are very good friends but, of course, on track when it comes to fighting it’s like fighting with anybody else.
Lucas di Grassi

Di Grass will be in the car again tomorrow but it remains to be seen if the weather will allow the team to get the running they need. He and Glock have logged just 106km on the car in the group tests so far. Red Bull and Force India – the other two newcomers to this week’s test – have each completed well over 800km.

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14 comments on Di Grassi: Too early to judge performance

  1. Keith, Not related to this post as such – but I’m loving watching you get a deserved break in F1 at the moment.

    Wanted to come and say hello at the McLaren launch but there was just too much going on. Both delighted and jealous that you’re in Jerez at the moment.

    Good stuff mate.

    Adie

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th February 2010, 19:08

      Thanks very much Adie – I’m certainly enjoying getting the opportunity to do proper interviews with drivers like di Grassi and I hope you and everyone else who’s been following the site thinks I’m making the most of the chance.

      • I do…as a frustrated blogger myself I’d love to be in your position :D

        Have you managed / tried to get FIA accreditation for the season at all?

        • Mouse_Nightshirt said on 13th February 2010, 3:42

          That would be a combination of well deserved and extreme awesomeness, all rolled into one sweet, delicious, pastry crust, baked until golden brown, and drizzled with a touch of gravy and a sprig of parsley.

      • Maciek said on 12th February 2010, 23:01

        Let me add my congrats as well. As Adie said, will you be able to do on-site coverage during the season? … where travel costs permit, that is, I guess.

  2. Thank you very much for the di Grassi article, Keith.Great job !

  3. Ned Flanders said on 12th February 2010, 23:16

    Keith- when you get a personal interview with a driver you might want to ‘big it up’ a bit more as an exclusive F1 Fanatic interview in the headline. I hadn’t clicked on the link till now because I thought it was just the usual run of the mill driver quotes that you can find anywhere. Judging by the fact there’ve only been 5 comments so far I’m probably not the only person who thought this.

    Anyway… this test has been a bit of a waste of time for Virgin. With hindsight they probably would have waited for the 3rd test like Lotus are doing. At least they have a car- no matter how slow or unreliable it might be, it’s more than can be said for USF1 and Campos…

  4. wasiF1 said on 13th February 2010, 2:37

    If Virgin can’t get too much mileage in the test couple of days then they are in real trouble.

    • TheGreatCornholio said on 13th February 2010, 8:37

      It’ll be a tough start for them but they’ll get plenty of time to get 2 cars on track over the course of a race weekend so they’ll have to treat it like a test session! We’ve seen teams take cars out of races due to mechanical/electrical issues only to send them back out later for “development time”. They’ll be ok but i think its gonna take them til maybe Monaco to get on top of just getting both cars to finish a race!

    • Not necessarily, as has already been pointed out elsewhere 106km in testing is 106km more than Campos and USF1.

      All new cars have teething problems, especially so new cars produced by brand new F1 teams who have never produced and run an F1 car before. We’ve not seen any genuinely new F1 teams since Toyota in 2002 and they were already an experienced motorsports organisation which had spent a year (and a large amount of money) testing a prototype. It’s easy to forget just how big a challenge it is for an independent to start up an F1 team from nothing.

      Testing is designed to identify and eliminate problems like the Virgin front wing – not great for it to set back Virgin’s test programme, but better than it happening in Q1 at Bahrain.

  5. Wow! Terrific interview Keith and i like the fact that you seem to have gotten some honest answers. He admits that the situation sucks and that the team can’t even be compared to Renault or that he can’t even fit very well in the car. Normally drivers try to say that everything is fine and that smaller teams can to the same job as big ones and staff like that.

  6. malaysianf1 said on 14th February 2010, 10:00

    Lotus will blow them to dust. Development with no windtunnel, we’ll see sooner or later the performance of the car.

  7. “It’s completely different. Renault is a world championship winning team so it was completely different from the drivers’ point of view of just sitting down and driving with a team that is established”. I wonder what Virgins response to this statement is…

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