Virgin technical director Nick Wirth believes that Timo Glock can fight with Lotus for top new-team finish in today's British Grand Prix based purely on pace, following a successful introduction of a significant upgrade to the VR-01.
The German driver qualified three tenths behind Heikki Kovalainen, to go second fastest of the new teams and take 18th on the grid. But Wirth reckons that due to problems earlier in the weekend, it was not possible for Glock to get the most out of the new package which includes a new front wing assembly, rear wing, rear brake duct, rear diffuser, new underbody and new bodywork aero parts.
"We definitely didn't [get the maximum]," he told AUTOSPORT. "Fundamentally because he had an annoying oil leak on Friday. Issues cost him a lot of track time.
"But it was a really great result. We've had our public knocks this year, but we know what we are capable of doing. We've taken on a massive challenge, keeping all the budgets balanced and focusing on reliability. Meanwhile, the aero team has gone about their task, which is really challenging. There has been a bigger, bigger disconnect between what we know we could achieve as a company and the results on the track. This was the perfect opportunity to address that."
Wirth added that the second of the team's two recent big updates has pushed the team even further ahead than was expected.
"If you say this is what is going to happen, then you have to deliver," he said, "having previously called for the team to be judged on its performance at Silverstone. We put the step on the simulators and the drivers came in and drove it, and they said, 'That's a lot!' So when you actually deliver it... It was actually a bigger step than we expected.
"With us it is a lot to do with the quality of the parts. So you can have a CAD model, but if the quality of the parts are one level, and then you can build exactly the same thing of a higher quality – that has better fit, better surface finish, that sort of thing. You are going to generate better performance. Part of the step has been to do with that."