F1 News, Views and Reviews

Virgin Racing (Manor)

Marussia Virgin Racing Launch Their 2011 Car

Marussia Virgin Racing have launched their car to take on the 2011 world championship in a lavish London ceremony.

The Marussia name now preceeds Virgin following a major tie up with the Russian sportscar manufacturer and the team at the end of 2010.  It has led to the new car being designated as the MVR-02.

Designed purely by CFD last season, the VR-01 was largely disappointing mostly due to reliability issues, but the Cosworth powered team are hoping for better things this season.  The new car is a clear advancement on last seasons machine, in a similar fashion to Team Lotus, the experience of a season with development has led to a much tighter  overall package being produced.

The Virgin features a much lower front nosecone than we have previously seen, and there is also an interesting exhaust design at the rear of the car – whether that is forcing some form of blown aerodynamics at the rear end we do not know.

Nick Wirth, head of design at the team was clearly very happy with the new car, citing a serious gain in aerodynamic strength and reliability.

“Since the middle of year we worked on process, we calibrated how fast we had to improve and what did we have to work on,” he said.

“We have done a huge amount of development of physics and what we are doing to catch up with everyone.”

“The back of car is heavily regulated from last year, and we managed to take this car and not only catch up where we were, but go above it in terms of aero efficiency – in every single way this car is faster and better than last year.”

The car still retains its red and black paintwork, but this year has some white thrown into the mix to make quite a good looking machine.  Various high profile sponsors including of course Virgin and Marussia, but also QNET and CSC have retained sponsorship with the backmarkers providing a good financial base.

Timo Glock will race the car for a second season alongisde promoted rookie Jerome D’Ambrosio who ousted 2010 racer Lucas di Grassi from the race seat.

Glock, 28, says he is hopeful of a big step forward this season.

“We want to grab points in first races and then work from there,” he said. “We are much more sorted out, more structured, we have one year experience so we should be on a good way.

“But we have to realistic, we were 3-4 seconds off the pace last year and you never catch 3-4 seconds in winter time, so we have to make some improvement and then move up.

“I am hoping for a realistic step. I am happy to do a proper step over the winter with the team together and be strong in first races. When you see back to lots of crashes and technical problems – that is where we struggled last year and that is where we have to be strong.”



D’Ambrosio Confirmed As Marussia Virgin Driver For 2011

Jerome D’Ambrosio has been confirmed as the second driver at the Marussia Virgin Racing team for the 2011 season.

The Belgian driver, who tested with both Virgin and Renault at the recent rookie tests in Abu Dhabi, will take over the race seat from ousted 2010 driver Lucas di Grassi.  D’Ambrosio clearly did enough to impress the team during the test and as expected takes the race seat.

Timo Glock will race alongside Jerome at the team, which is now receiving backing from Marussia a Russian sportscar manufacturer.

Speaking about the deal, D’Ambrosio said: “I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula 1 race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing.

“When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for. I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat, but at the same time I got on well with the team and felt that I had found my home.

“I feel very comfortable with them – they are extremely professional and ambitious people and it is exciting to think that I can be a part of shaping the team’s future.”


Russian Sportscar Manufacturer Secures Virgin Racing Stake

Russian sportscar company, Marussia Motors, have bought a major stake in the Virgin Racing team, securing its future.

The Virgin team joined Formula One this season, and have struggled somewhat to make an impact so far.  Marussia have been a partner since the formation of the team, their logos appearing on both cars and drivers.

The team will now be known as Marussia Virgin Racing.

“Our first year in Formula 1 was always going to be tough – even more so as we were launching in the midst of a worldwide recession,” said Virgin chief Richard Branson.

“Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the F1 grid.”

Graeme Lowdon, CEO of Virgin Racing, added: “This announcement cements our place on the F1 grid and is testimony to the hard work and dedication of every single member of our team.”

Meanwhile the deal has spiced up speculation about the teams second driver.  While John Booth says the team are in no hurry to decide upon a second driver to partner Timo Glock next season, multiple names are being linked with the seat.  These include current driver Lucas di Grassi, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Giedo va der Garde.

The deal with a Russian manufacturer has made some sources link out of favour Renault driver Vitaly Petrov with the seat, but Booth says a Russian racer in the team is some way off yet.

“There is nothing on the horizon for a Russian driver at the moment, but they have come on in leaps and bounds over the last five years,” he said. “We have [Vitaly] Petrov in F1 and [Mikhail] Aleshin in World Series, so Russian drivers are going from strength to strength.”

Ecclestone Predicts Grid Shrink Before End Of Season

Bernie Ecclestone has said today that he believes the Formula One grid will shrink before the end of the season with one or two teams falling by the way side.

The ring leader of F1 was talking to The Daily Telegraph in an exclusive interview about the state of the teams in F1 today.  While there had been a lot of concern surrounding Renault recently, Ecclestone canned fears that they might be leaving the sport by stating that Genii Capital who own the team were in good financial condition.

”All that was [the Renault situation] was the fact that one of the shareholders didn’t want to take money from another one of his companies because that would have meant convening a board meeting,” Ecclestone said.

“But I never gave them the money. And they got over the crisis so everything is fine.”

However Ecclestone was no so bouyant about the state of other teams in F1.  He reckons that one team is very likely to leave, and another may well follow.  He also downplayed the significance of the new teams that entered the sport at the start of 2010 claiming that Lotus were the only serious and important team.

“I would not be surprised if one or two of them did not make the end of the season. I think there are a couple of teams in Formula 1 who really shouldn’t be there. They are a bit out of their depth at the moment.”

“All we ever want is 10 teams,” he said. “Lotus is a good name. I wouldn’t want to lose them. But in general this year has been a bit of a nuisance because it has cost money to keep these [struggling] teams in. It has cost a lot of money to pay for them to compete.

“The bottom line is they haven’t really and truly given us value for being there. If suddenly these teams don’t turn up at races then I don’t think the crowds will get any smaller, or the TV sets will turn off, or the newspapers will stop writing, will they?”

With F1 looking for another team to take the empty place of the failed USF1 project for 2011, it really devalues their position.  With regard the team that is most likely to leave, that is almost certainly a reference to Hispania.  HRT were a last minute team, and have already been in financial struggles.  There is great paddock rumour that Bernie himself paid out for the team to continue running, but they had to use Indian driver Karun Chandhok.  Now he has been dropped from the team, Bernie seems to be telling it how it is.

He also didn’t seem convinced then about Virgin Racing in the sport, despite the fact that Timo Glock is near the pace of the Lotus’.  It would be a big surprise if they were packing their bags and leaving F1 at the end of the season.

Wirth Research Set To Move Factories

Wirth Research, the people behind the construction of the Virgin Racing cars are set to move factories over the course of the next few months.

However the move will not be finalised until the chassis for Virgin’s second car, the VR-02 is complete.

Wirth Research created the first F1 car to be designed using total CFD, without the aid of a wind tunnel.  They had intial teething troubles, with a slow car, parts having a habit of falling off but most embarrassing was the fact the new VR-01 car did not have a large enough fuel tank.

“It will be sometime early next year, probably after the F1 car is built,” Wirth told Autosport in an exclusive

“The move starts in the August shutdown and will continue for several months to fit in with the build-up of next year’s F1 car. People who have to stay will stay behind until the car is built and on its way.

“It’s a phased process, but we’re used to working all over the place so it’s not really going to be much of a change.”

The team will be housing themselves in the old Ascari cars factory in Banbury.

“In terms of our business both on the F1 side and on all the other projects, it represents a major step to get everyone into such a great facility that is still in motorsports valley.

“We’re moving everything under one roof. It’s sized and designed to take us to the next level of research and development and the next level of computing power. We literally can’t fit any more computers into where we are now!”

Wirth To Pay For Virgin Fuel Tank Upgrades

Nick Wirth, the head of Wirth Research the group behind the design of Virgin Racing’s VR-01 has said he will personally pick up the bill for the alterations needed to the fuel tanks of the cars in order for them to finish a Grand Prix.

With refuelling banned for the 2010 season, the cars are forced to run the entire race with the full fuel load.  However it emerged in Australia that the Virgin car did not have enough fuel capacity and as a result the entire chassis would need to be changed, an issue which will cost around £1.5million + and not be sorted until the Turkish Grand Prix.

The cars could use techniques used in Sportscar racing to finish races, but Wirth was unwilling for his cars to crawl around some laps in order to get a finish on the boards.   He said he was disappointed with their overall recent performance, citing issues with fuelling in qualifying as more problems.

“The chassis supplier is us. 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,” Wirth told Autosport Magazine

“It’s our responsibility to provide cars that can finish a grand prix. It’s down to 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.”

Wirth (L) under pressure from Richard Branson (R)

Stefan GP NOT Given Entry As Official 2010 Entry List Announced

Stefan GP have not been granted an entry into the 2010 Formula One season, and will not be allowed to compete unitl potentially 2011 as the FIA consider opening up entries fo the next season of racing to newcomers.

Stefan have already got a car and sent equipment to Bahrain, and despite USF1 not competing this season the Serbian outfit cannot take their place.

“Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship at this late stage,” the FIA said.

“In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season.”

USF1 are listed as deferring their entry until 2011 on the list, and Sauber retain the BMW moniker at the start of the name while Campos become HRT as mentioned yesterday.

Official 2010 Entry List



5  Sebastian VETTEL (D)     RED BULL RACING (AUT)



11 Robert KUBICA (POL)        RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA)
12 Vitaly PETROV (RUS)        RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA)

14 Adrian SUTIL (D)           FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)
15 Vitantonio LIUZZI (I)      FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)

16 Sébastien BUEMI (CH)       SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (I)

18 Jarno TRULLI (I)           LOTUS RACING (MAL)

20 TBA                        HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)
21 Bruno SENNA (BRA)          HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)


24 Timo GLOCK (D)           VIRGIN RACING (GB)

Teams are up, no Stefan though...

Branson Attacks “Sad” Ferrari And Claims His Team Will Beat The Scuderia

Richard Branson, the Virgin magnate who thrust himself upon Formula One with Brawn GP sponsorship last season and now runs his own team through the Manor GP project, claims that criticisms of the new teams by Ferrari is very sad.

Ferrari released an anonymous column on their website last week stating that the new teams were degrading F1, and that the FIA had launched a holy war within Formula One.

Branson claims that the new teams will bring more than Ferrari could imagaine to the sport, make it more competitive and Branson also claims that his Virgin Racing team will beat Ferrari.

“I think that it is a bit sad to see Ferrari carrying on with those kinds of words,” said Branson during a visit to testing at Barcelona on Saturday.

“F1 needs new teams, and Ferrari won the battle of making sure the new teams were shackled. For testing, we built a new car and we are going to have to have exactly the same amount of practice time as Brawn or Ferrari or the others, who have had years and years and years to get their cars to a certain stage.

“We are not complaining about it, and we are happy to go on with it, but Ferrari should be welcoming new teams because they [the new teams] make the sport much more exciting. And we will make them look better for a year or two until we catch them up. Ultimately, I think the new teams will give Ferrari a run for their money and I think will make the sport more exciting – particularly as the budgets come down to more realistic levels.”

Hulkenberg Fastest On Day 2 of Barcelona Final Test

Nico Hulkenberg narrowly beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on the second day of the final test in Barcelona.

The German driver did just under 100 laps as many drivers concentrated their morning runs on qualifying performance, and the afternoon on higher fuelrace based simulations with Bahrain being just 2 weeks away.

De la Rosa was 3rd with another impressive performance from Sauber, with Liuzzi showing the Force India pace with an impressive 4th.

Vettel and Alguersuari were close in 5th and 6th, despite the Toro Rosso now running its own chassis and aerodynamic package separate from the Red Bull teams, both ahead of Michael Schumacher in 7th however.

The new teams of Lotus and Virgin were still at the bottom of the timesheets however.

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)  1:20.614   99
 2.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)  1:20.637  134
 3.  de la Rosa    BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:20.973  114
 4.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes (B)  1:21.056   90
 5.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:21.258  125
 6.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:21.571  104
 7.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)  1:21.689   85
 8.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:22.152   93
 9.  Kubica        Renault              (B)  1:24.912   53
10.  Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth       (B)  1:25.524   70
11.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth      (B)  1:25.942   52

Jerez Test Day 4: Button Quickest

Jenson Button set the fastest time of the day, and the fastest time of the week on the final day of testing in Jerez yesterday.

The McLaren driver was narrowly quicker than an improved Robert Kubica, and Kamui Kobayashi brought Sauber back to the front of the times.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was fast in the Force India, slightly faster than Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli propped the tables after some mammoth long runs on his first day with the Lotus.

Pos  Driver             Team         Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Jenson Button      McLaren      1m18.871s            108
 2.  Robert Kubica      Renault      1m19.114s  + 0.243s  117
 3.  Kamui Kobayashi    Sauber       1m19.188s  + 0.317s  117
 4.  Tonio Liuzzi       Force India  1m19.650s  + 0.779s  80
 5.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes     1m20.061s  + 1.190s  130
 6.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari      1m20.436s  + 1.565s  137
 7.  Jaime Alguersuari  Toro Rosso   1m21.053s  + 2.182s  139
 8.  Mark Webber        Red Bull     1m21.194s  + 2.323s  87
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Williams     1m21.919s  + 3.048s  137
10.  Timo Glock         Virgin       1m22.433s  + 3.562s  28
11.  Jarno Trulli       Lotus        1m23.470s  + 4.599s  141