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.”
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!”
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.”
Virgin Racing have launched their new car, the first of the “new teams” to do so with the covers finally coming off the VR-01 today.
The launch was supposed to be broadcast live, but a major technical glitch left fans and reporters sat watching a black screen, and the joke was most certainly on Virgin who beamed about their car being designed exclusively on computers – and they couldn’t even get a video stream working.
Nevertheless we finally saw the new car which is quite a looker, in a black and red livery quite similar to the former Midland F1 cars of 2006.
The sponsors are there, which makes a change to some of the more recent launches.
“Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing, however on this occasion, where the car is the star, I want to pay tribute to all the amazing people at Wirth Research who deserve so much of the credit for the VR-01,” said designer Nick Wirth.
“Putting together an F1 team, assembling an engineering group and designing a new car from scratch is an epic task in the timeframe we have been working to.
“I have been fortunate to have worked with the very best designers in F1 and I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport. When you see what the existing teams have achieved using the conventional but proven design approach, it is unsurprising that there is a great deal of scepticism about our all-CFD approach.
“But we are competing in a sport that is undergoing significant change having come face to face with today’s harsh economic realities. Under resource restriction, convention will become too costly and necessity really will be the mother of invention. I have absolute belief in the digital design process and the opportunity to put the all-CFD approach to the test at the highest level – to demonstrate that this could be the way for the future of F1 – is very, very exciting.”
Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi will be driving the car, originally bought into F1 under the Manor moniker and now known as Virgin from Richard Branson’s business group.
Timo Glock has announced he will be driving for the newly formed Manor GP racing team in Formula One next season.
Glock, 27, was linked with a move to Renault after his former team Toyota pulled out of Formula One a few weeks ago.
Now the 2007 GP2 Champion will drive for the new team, powered by Cosworth engines and likely to be sponsored and backed by Richard Branson’s Virgin group.
“I had several options for 2010, some of them with more established teams,” said Glock.
“Every driver has the same overall objective – to win the world championship one day – but the way I want to succeed is to be part of the process of building a team and to play a key role in developing the car. This is why the opportunity with Manor Grand Prix is so exciting for me.
“I have spent a lot of time with [technical director] Nick Wirth, [team principal] John Booth and other members of the team and what I liked most is that this a real racing team run by true racers.
“The team may be small and new but it has big ambitions and a very impressive car and development programme. I am confident that I can play a big role in terms of my technical input and that’s a fantastic opportunity for me. I can’t wait to start testing the new car early next year.”
With Jenson Button now clearly heading to McLaren, we are literally waiting on an official announcement it leaves the door at Renault open for a various number of drivers, but most likely for Kimi Raikkonen – Renault really are the last team left who could afford the 2007 F1 Champion.