Booth issues rallying cry to F1 minnows

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SPORTING director John Booth has called for solidarity as Marussia Virgin Racing bid to move away from the back of the grid in Formula One.

Booth, team principal of the Dinnington-based outfit, has issued the rallying cry on the eve of the Turkish Grand Prix, starting on Sunday.

He is confident of an improved showing in Istanbul after a lacklustre start to the 2011 campaign.

Although Virgin have rectified their reliability deficiencies in the opening three fly-away races, Booth’s charges remain a considerable distance behind the teams in the middle pack.

Nonetheless, Booth is optimistic a major new aerodynamic package, which Virgin have developed in the last three weeks, will help them cut the gap on the teams directly above them. The upgrade includes a new exhaust, nose and front wing and will be unveiled for the first time this weekend.

The full upgrade will be available for Timo Glock in Turkey while rookie teammate Jerome d’Ambrosio will have to wait until the Spanish Grand Prix.

Having so far sacrificed pace for reliability, Booth hopes the revised MVR-02 chassis, uniquely designed without the use of a wind tunnel, will bring Virgin up to speed for the start of the European leg of their campaign.

“By our own admission, its been a difficult start to the year,” said Booth. “The extent of our upgrade package is significant. Aerodynamically it’s a new direction for us.”

With Virgin regularly three seconds behind the teams reaching the second session of qualifying on a Saturday, Pat Symonds, the former Renault technical director, has been called in to conduct a full review of Virgin’s operation.

Acting in a consultancy capacity, Symonds is working closely with the team’s engineers to try and turn around their fortunes.

Booth told The Star: “We have to stick together. We have developed as a team. We lost four people over the winter and gained eight but the core of the team has remained the same.

“The atmosphere in the team is great and we have to keep looking forward.”

D’Ambrosio, in his debut year in F1, is looking forward to competing in Turkey.

“Istanbul Park Circuit is a track I know well from my GP2 career and I love it,” he said. “The track has some good challenges and the chance to race on an anti-clockwise circuit is always fun.

“For me it’s all about steady progress now. I’m really happy with my first three races in F1 and now I have to not just maintain that but keep pushing myself and moving forward as there is still so much to learn.”