Over the next few days I’ll be writing about each new car in turn, starting with Virgin Racing, who finished the 2010 season in 12th place, and working through in order to Red Bull Racing who of course topped both championship tables.
For 2011 Virgin Racing gains title sponsorship from Marussia, who have also bought into the UK based team, and will this season race under a Russian Licence. Timo Glock drove for the team in 2010 and remains with them for the 2011 season, he is joined by Belgian Jerome D’Ambrosio.
The car they will both be driving will be the MVR-02, once again designed entirely using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) by Nick Wirth’s team at Wirth Research. Speaking at the car launch in London on 7th February, Wirth was positive that the car would be a step forward from the VR-01 used in 2010:
“We are extremely pleased to have proved the digital design process in Formula One last season and to have demonstrated that it is possible to compete at the highest level of motor sport with a car designed wholly in computer simulation. Having said that, we faced a very steep learning curve and experienced some tough lessons, which we have applied to our design programme for 2011.
“I am confident that we have made real progress with the MVR-02, producing a car with more downforce than the VR-01 and having made significant gains in terms of weight, stiffness and overall quality. It also provides a good basis for development over the course of the season.”
While the car initially looks distinctly underwhelming, the team has worked hard to refine every area of the car, particularly the hydraulics and gearbox which hampered their 2010 campaign. It should be remembered that another car Wirth was involved in the design of, the Acura LMP2, was nothing special upon its launch, however it was refined over time to win the LMP2 class at Le Mans by 6 laps in 2010. An all CFD approach might still seem like a gamble, but it would be foolish to write of this team just for that.
The team will naturally be aiming to avoid finishing at the bottom of the table this year and, at the very least, will be aiming to beat fellow 2010 debutantes HRT and Team Lotus.
Marussia Virgin Racing Official Site