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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 7 March 2021

Booth sees the light

John Booth, the team principal of Virgin Racing, talks to Simon Arron about the fortunes of the new F1 team.
Things are moving forward for Virgin Racing.
Things are moving forward for Virgin Racing.

Five races into the adventure, how do you assess progress? "Last weekend in Barcelona I began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn't just the fact both cars finished. For the first time, I really felt we were in control of our own destiny and not just passengers. We seem to be getting on top of reliability now - and that means we can begin to focus on performance."

You ran one updated car in Spain and the second will appear in Turkey. What positives have you drawn from that? "Apart from the obvious - the tank is now big enough to guarantee we'll have enough fuel to do a full race distance - it has an uprated aero package, which will be refined as we go forward, and we now have a better platform on which to build." There has been a bit of fuss about having 24 cars on the circuit in Monaco this weekend, with the performance differentials between fastest and slowest...

"Some guys will be lucky, some won't, but so what? You have to make your own luck. If people trip up we might get a jumbled grid... just as we did in Malaysia after some teams made bad calls during qualifying. That turned out to be a terrific race." While finding your feet, do you feel frightened or inspired by the extreme pace of development all around? "I'm inspired by what Red Bull have achieved, because Adrian Newey is an absolutely fantastic designer, but you have to be realistic. There's no way we can make that kind of leap forward when leading teams are spending £200 million (Dh1billon) or £300m per season and we're trying to get by on £40m. Hopefully the financial gap will come down a bit by 2012 or so."

What are your realistic targets for the balance of the season? "To move forward - and to beat Lotus on a regular basis. I think the gap between the three new teams and the lower midfield has closed considerably and I want to see that continue." How do you feel about going to Monaco for the first time as an F1 team principal? "Very proud - and very excited. I've been there once before, with my F3 team in 2005, and it represents F1 at its most romantic."

sports@thenational.ae

Published: May 14, 2010 04:00 AM

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