Apr.19 (GMM) While F1 personnel devise imaginative routes back to Europe, the harshest impact of the volcanic ash lingering above Europe could fall on Virgin.
With FIA clearance, the new British team has been busily designing a new chassis to accommodate a fuel tank big enough to take its cars to the end of races.
The package, at an estimated development cost of 1 million pounds sterling, was due to debut in Barcelona in three weeks.
But F1’s hundreds of kilos of freight – including the two race cars driven by Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock in Shanghai – are currently holed up at Shanghai airport while the six 747 jets are stranded back in Europe.
It means the Virgin cars, including a third spare monocoque, might not be returned to the Yorkshire base in time – or at all before being shipped to Barcelona – so they can be modified for the new chassis package.
It is believed Virgin only has a single VR-01 monocoque already at the factory, so it is possible that either di Grassi or Glock could be forced to contest Spain next month with the too-small fuel tank still fitted.
However, given Virgin’s reliability record so far, the drivers are rarely in need of a full tank of fuel. Only in Malaysia did Brazilian rookie di Grassi make it to the chequered flag.
At every other race so far, the 25-year-old has retired, while Glock has not completed a full grand prix distance at all in 2010.