Timo Glock thinks Virgin should still be able to qualify for the Australian Grand Prix despite being a long way off the pace in practice, but admits that the team is not in good shape going into the season opener.
With the return of the 107 percent qualifying cut-off this year, any car outside that margin in Q1 will not be permitted to start the race. The 107 percent time for practice this afternoon would have been 1:31.864 –and the Virgins only managed 1:32.1.
"It's disappointing. We're not where we should be and it's quite easy to see that we are not quick enough at the moment," Glock told AUTOSPORT. He fears that Virgin's chances of qualifying might depend on how seriously the quick teams take Q1 performance.
"The only chance we have is that the top guys in Q1 run the hard tire and we run softs and then we don't have a problem to get within 107 percent," he suggested. "It's disappointing and not great that the car is not on the pace."
Still, Glock pointed out that Virgin had not shown its absolute maximum pace in practice and could go quicker on lower fuel.
"We were three tenths off the 107 percent today and I did a the lap time as part of the long run," he explained. "If we drop the fuel and I do a good lap, then we should be in. But the target is not to fight for the 107 percent, the target was to be up there with Lotus – and that's definitely still the target."
The German said the car's main shortcoming is a lack of "overall downforce" and does not expect the situation to improve until an update arrives for the Turkish Grand Prix.
"I hope that the guys who are behind the new package for the car know what they are doing and the numbers are right, because at the moment we are clearly not where we had our targets," said Glock. "I hope that the new upgrade for Turkey puts us on target."