Incoming Simian Virus 40 particles bind to their cellular receptor, the glycolipid GM1, in the plasma membrane and thereby induce membrane deformation beneath the virion leading to endocytosis and infection. Efficient membrane deformation depends on receptor lipid structure and the organization of binding sites on the internalizing particle. To determine the role of receptor diffusion, concentration and the number of receptors required for stable binding in this interaction, we analyze the binding of SV40 to GM1 in supported membrane bilayers by computational modeling based on experimental data. We measure the diffusion rates of SV40 virions in solution by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and of the receptor in bilayers by single molecule tracking. Quartz- crystal microbalance with dissipation (QCM-D) is used to measure binding of SV40 virus-like particles to bilayers containing the viral receptor GM1. We develop a phenomenological stochastic dynamics model calibrated against this data, and use it to investigate the early events of virus attachment to lipid membranes. Our results indicate that SV40 requires at least 4 attached receptors to achieve stable binding. We moreover find that receptor diffusion is essential for the establishment of stable binding over the physiological range of receptor concentrations and that receptor concentration controls the mode of viral motion on the target membrane. Our results provide quantitative insight into the initial events of virus-host interaction at the nanoscopic level.