Malaysia owned Lotus Racing is commonly described as the “best of the new teams” but fellow rookie team Virgin Racing hasn’t given up on snatching that title away. VR technical director Nick Wirth believes that the team must still target finishing 10th in the Constructors’ Championship this year. Virgin is currently 12th behind Lotus and HRT.

FIA ranks non-point scoring teams based on their best finish, so Lotus’ position is courtesy of Heikki Kovalainen’s 13th place in Australia. Virgin’s best finish of 14th was achieved by Lucas di Grassi in Sepang. HRT is also ahead of Virgin because Karun Chandhok has chalked up two 14th places.

“We must keep putting performance on the car. We’ll keep pushing to the end and see what happens,” Wirth told Autosport. “We switched our focus to development (previously just reliability troubleshooting) in the second half of this year and we’ve got to keep the learning curve going.”

He added that VR’s Hungarian GP showing, where Timo Glock qualified as the best of the new teams, is proof that Virgin now has the pace to challenge Lotus. “The Hungaroring type of track, with low speed corners, hasn’t traditionally favoured us compared to Lotus, so our performance there shows the underlying progress that we’ve made,” he said.

Virgin might stand a chance, especially when Lotus is now putting its resources on designing the 2011 car. Mike Gascoyne said so in our previous post. So who will wear the skirt at the end of the season?