Timo Glock says this week's test at Jerez will be crucial for Virgin Racing's attempt to move up the Formula 1 grid this season. The team unveiled its 2011 car, the MVR-02, in London today and it will hit the track for the first time at Jerez on Thursday. Glock says Virgin needs to get a handle on the new machine as soon as possible to avoid last year's situation of arriving at the first race with problems outstanding.
"At the first test I just want to hit the track and drive, drive, drive," Glock said. "We need to see where the bad points are on the car to sort this out before the first race. If you come to the first race with a list of problems, you are in trouble and you start on the back foot. That's what we shouldn't do."
He says that, despite the struggles of 2010, he has seen enough from Virgin to believe it can move forwards to challenge the established teams this year.
"At first it was quite a hard time, but we thought about all the mistakes we made, started to restructure in the middle of the year, tried to get the car more reliable, quicker," Glock said. "I had some thoughts like, 'Bloody hell, what am I doing here?' fighting all weekend and after 10 laps a radio call to say, 'Timo, you have to come back to the pits.' It was quite hard.
"The last couple of races we realized we could be in better shape for 2011. 'Good shape' is moving forward, a step closer to the midfield teams. Then in Korea we sorted everything out, I was quick in the wet conditions and just unlucky that I was taken out by Sebastien Buemi, that's just how racing is."
Glock reckons Virgin's target this year is to mix it with the midfield teams, but accepts that progress will not be any faster than that.
"An acceptable level for us would be close to teams like Sauber, Toro Rosso, Force India," he said. "Realistically, we should be 2-2.5sec behind the top teams, then close to the midfield teams.
"If Lotus is pulling away from us then they did a fantastic job over the winter. I think they have different possibilities to us, a different budget. But our car looks quite a good step forward so I hope we are ahead of Lotus."