Tag Archives: Virgin Racing

Virgin launch VR-01 online

The new Virgin VR-01

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.”

VR-01 dimensions

Length: 5,500mm
Height: 950mm
Width: 1,800mm
Wheelbase: 3,200mm

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:

The 2009 F1 Review- The new teams for 2010

As opposed to the first 4 parts of my 2009 review, this part is dedicated to the new teams for 2010: Virgin, Campos, Lotus and USF1.

The Lotus F1 team is nothing like the Lotus of the past, except in name. It is now owned by 1Malaysia, and run by Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of Air Asia. Money seems to have helped the team start off, as Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen are two very talented drivers. Also, Mike Gascoyne’s arrival as chief technical officer will have a large impact on the car’s design.

The team’s plans appear to be on schedule, according to Tony Fernandes. However, before the season has already begun, the team has already decided where they need to finish: anywhere ahead of Virgin. As you will probably know, there is know a bet between Fernandes and Richard Branson (principal of Virgin Racing). Whichever team loses next year to the other, that team prinicpal must work for a day, as an air stewardess in the other’s airline! Whatever happens, it is sure to motivate both teams well.

The Virgin Racing team started off by announcing its drivers as Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi. Again, another good pairing. Glock has speed and experience, while di Grassi can hopefully grow, in his first year of F1. Virgin’s car is to be designed using only CFD (Computer Fluid Dynamics), which is the first ever F1 team to do so. This plan may either fail or succeed hugely, depending on how good the technology is. To be honest, I want it to work, because otherwise we may see Branson in a stewardesses costume!

Lotus are so confident of beating Virgin, they have even picked out an outfit!

Lotus are so confident of beating Virgin, they have even picked out an outfit!

Campos are probably the least reported new team for next year, because they make the least noise about anything they’re doing. The problem is, they appear to have very little done at all. Bruno Senna has been confirmed as one of their drivers, and that’s it. Their website is practically useless, as all they do is advertise for small positions within the team. This concern has been repeated by Bernie Ecclestone, who in December, said that he doubts they will be ready for the 2010 season. We will have to wait and see what happens next.

The Campos Meta logo

The Campos Meta logo

While Campos appear to be failing quietly, USF1 appear to be failing with an enormous bang. They came in claiming to be the first ever “all-American” team, which would be based in America, try to use American parts, and hire American drivers. However, no drivers from the US will be avilable until at least 2011, most of their parts suppliers are European, and the team is secondarily based in Spain. Worse than that, they have hired no drivers at all yet. The ony progress they appear to have made yet is their company base, in Charlotte, is up and running.

Lucas di Grassi to join Virgin Racing for 2010

Lucas di Grassi, at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix

Lucas di Grassi, at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix

Virgin Racing has announced its takeover of the Manor team, and also confirmed Lucas di Grassi as its second driver alongside Timo Glock. Alvaro Parente will be the team’s test driver.

Di Grassi was runner up in the 2007 GP2 championship, and 3rd in 2009. He was formerly the test driver for Renault, and participated in the Jerez young driver test earlier this month.

“I could never have imagined a debut as perfect as this one,” said di Grassi. “And I believe I am ready for F1. I have worked a lot over the years to get here and I believe it happened just in time. Being here with them makes more sense to me than to be with a veteran organisation. We will debut together, and that detail makes for a special bond too. I am ready to work 24/7 and I am sure I will be able to contribute to the team’s efforts in every stage of our evolution in 2010.”

Virgin Racing have also launched their website: http://www.virginracing.com

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