Jarno Trulli has admitted that his Lotus team is not currently quick enough to beat Virgin to the honor of being the fastest newcomer, but is sure it will not be long before his squad moves ahead.
Although Virgin has tended to be slightly faster than Lotus so far in 2010, the latter has enjoyed much better reliability. Trulli pointed out that Virgin had been given the go-ahead for its Formula 1 project much earlier than Lotus – which did not get its entry until September 2009 – and that Lotus had deliberately concentrated on reliability before chasing performance.
"Virgin has been quick," said Trulli after practice in Melbourne today. "Here, it's difficult to judge, to be honest, they didn't run much. In Bahrain, they were quicker than us. But they have probably focused more on the performance rather than reliability. We personally think we need to fix reliability, then we can work on the performance.
"Also, they had much more time to work on their car during the winter time than we did on ours. They started their Formula 1 project much, much earlier than ours. So we can't really compare the performance at the moment. Even though we're very close, I think they might again have the edge on us in pure performance. But we're very confident we can get ahead very soon."
Today's revelation that Virgin cannot finish races at full speed until it brings a new chassis with a larger fuel tank means Lotus is near certain to beat its rival in the races for now, but Trulli said it was still important to out-qualify Virgin, too.
"We always want to try to beat them, so for sure it was disappointing to be behind by just a tenth in Bahrain," he said. "But we'll try again here and maybe this track will suit our car better."