The new Virgin VR-01
The Virgin Racing VR-01 has been launched online, which makes them the first of the new teams to launch their cars.
The car was released entirely online, which gives the Virgin the tag of an “all-digital” car. This is because this car was entirely designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is using computers to simulate the aerodynamics of the car. The designer of the car, Nick Wirth, was behind the CFD project, and said:
“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. 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.”
I’m only taking a guess here, having never seen the performance of a CFD car, but this seriously looks like the future of technology in F1. The most affected team by this would be Williams, who recently invested tens of millions of pounds into 2 new wind tunnels.
The team principal of Virgin, John Booth, explained why the car wasn’t ready for the Valencia tests:
The first stage in our on-track evaluation programme is our two-day shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday this week, where we will conduct systematic testing and confidence-building of all car parts and on-car systems. It was always intended that we would miss the first all-team test in Valencia this week and very early on we targeted the second Jerez test in two weeks’ time for our public testing debut. It is a testament to our methodical approach and the sheer hard work of the team that we are heading to Spain a week earlier than planned to take part in the first Jerez test next week.”
Richard Branson added to this, saying:
I’m sure we will be measured by how fast the car is on the track in Jerez next week, but I hope that doesn’t overshadow the far bigger achievement of pulling an entire racing team together and taking a brave step that defies convention. In many ways this is an exploration, but given the absolute self-belief we have seen, I can’t help but feel very excited about what we can go on to achieve in the years ahead.”
“For now though I’m looking forward to seeing the VR-01 on –track in testing in the coming weeks as we prepare for Virgin Racing’s very first grand prix.”
Having never seent the car on track, it would be a bad idea to make judgements on the Virgin car already. However, we can definitely say that the livery looks great. I was pretty close when I showed the picture of the possible livery last week.
The car itself is a bit odd in places. First of all, the front wing looks heavily underdeveloped, in all sections. The Red Bull nose has been adopted, but only slightly. The nose cone itself is very different to the other teams, being much narrower. Also, the side engine intake area doesn’t look very aerodynamic at all.
Does it remind anyone else of the MF1 car from 2006?
Video of the car launch:
Pictures of the launch: