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.”
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.”