F1 News: Interview with David Hobbs, Wirth Won’t Charge Virgin for Fuel Fix, di Grassi to be Replaced [April Fools!]

What Happens When the Pranks Get Started

12:02am EST — An interview with terribly experienced racing driver and current SPEED F1 color commentator David Hobbs, Wirth takes responsibility for Virgin’s fuel problems, and April Fools’ Day begins.

David Hobbs Interview:
In a Formula1Blog exclusive, David Hobbs, who raced in a number of disciplines, sportscars and open-wheel, even NASCAR, had 20 Le Mans starts, finished 3rd in F1 debut, Indianapolis 500, 1983 Trans-Am champion. Provided color commentary for the 1st flag-to-flag TV coverage Daytona 500 in 1979 (covered 18 straight Daytona 500s), F1 races, Le Mans, Rolex 24, etc, and tested in secret Jaguar XJ13 at Mira test track in UK, where he set the closed course record (167.5 MPH) for UK, which held for 19 years, discussed his favorite racing cars, teammates, and the current events in F1.  Listen at the headline link.

Wirth Wont’ Charge Team for Wirth Research Mistake:
Nick Wirth and his company Wirth Research have taken responsibility for the fact that the Virgin Racing car somehow doesn’t have the fuel capacity to finish all the races this season, explained previously at F1B.  In an Autosport article, Wirth said,

The chassis supplier is us [Wirth Research]. Nothing to do with engine supplier or fuel supplier. What that means is that we are fixing it for the team. We are not charging the team. It’s our responsibility to provide cars that can finish a grand prix. It’s down to us…It’s us. It’s not a team issue, it’s us. We are not doing a very good job at the moment, particularly in qualifying, of picking up all the fuel. We are at liberty to carry on doing that [using heavy fuel loads]. That doesn’t affect the volume of fuel. But what we are saying is that even if we could pick up every last drop, which we can’t at the moment, we’ve got an issue.

The article explains that Wirth, who is also technical director of Virgin Racing, will not be charging the team for his company’s fix to the problem.  That fix will not be in place until at least Barcelona.  Still curious is why such a change needs to be implemented.  Previously, the problem was that the car did not have the fuel capacity to finish a race (despite other issues causing the car to not finish).  Now, Wirth notes that the car cannot use all the fuel it carries, requiring heavier fuel loads than necessary in qualifying.  He, as quoted above, said they could carry on using the heavier fuel loads, as “there are techniques that we learned from sportscars, but that’s not racing. We want to race.”
It is an intriguing and puzzling problem, that the car is unable to hold enough fuel to finish the race, let alone unable to use all the fuel in the car.  At least someone is taking responsibility, though, a sometimes rare and lonely thing in Formula1.

You Can Choose di Grassi’s Replacement at Virgin Racing:
In what seems to be the first of possibly many April Fools’ Day jokes in Formula1, a Twitter account and website purporting to be from the Virgin Racing team are encouraging fans to “choose the driver that will replace Lucas di Grassi.”  Tellingly, the “promotion ends today (April 1st, 2010) and [sic] 11:59 GMT.”  The site itself provides a link to the official Virgin Racing site, shows the logos of many of the team’s sponsors, the Malaysian flag, and the official F1 logo.  The site tells the reader,

CEO Graeme Lowdon and Team Principal John Booth decided to give you the opportunity to choose the driver that will replace Lucas di Grassi.  Our second driver’s below expectation performance led us to give [the reserve drivers] Andy Soucek (Spain) and Luiz Razia (Brazil) the chance of starting driving at 2010 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix till the end of this F1 season. [emphasis added]

Interestingly, while the Twitter account follows 248 accounts [at the time of writing], the Virgin Racing, Lucas diGrassi, and Timo Glock accounts are nowhere to be found in the “following” list.  Only four Twitter accounts follow the “promotion,” also none of them the official accounts connected to the team.  While it is difficult to tell where this joke originated, the first account that this “VirginDriver” follows is that of Spanish sports website El Mundo Deportivo.  Clever move, though it looks as though few have picked up on the strategy yet, especially since the single tweet keeps automatically posting every few minutes, though I first noted the account when it began following me at 9:45pm EST.  Check out the Wikipedia article for more info on this pranking holiday, should you need it.


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