|Virgin Racing Cosworth VR-01
As was predicted long before the 2010 season started, Richard Branson jumped ship from Brawn GP and into the arms of fellow first-time runners Manor Grand Prix, renaming the outfit under his global empire.
The VR-01 was the first of the rookie teams’ cars to be launched with a beautiful paint scheme to boot, and it is the sole entrant to be solely designed using CFD. Technical Director Nick Wirth’s love affair with CFD shows: the car is relatively simplistic in its appearance and lacks much of the refinement that happens when a wind-tunnel is used to develop the car further. As a cost-cutting measure, going without the wind-tunnel saves a new team a fortune, but will they come to regret that if the car doesn’t deliver on-track?
Dreadful pre-season testing reliability (especially the hydraulics) means that lasting a race distance will prove a huge challenge in the early races. Further embarrassment happened when the front wing’s mounting failed – something a pesky wind-tunnel might have picked up on, methinks? – and a shortage of spare parts cost the team valuable track time when the hydraulic fluid wasn’t leaking down the pitlane.
Not only is it unreliable, but the car isn’t very quick – regularly it has appeared dead last on the timesheets, and usually some 5 or so seconds off the pace. How well they can bed down the reliability issues and get the entire package working will prove if they can compete with the other rookies, let alone the established teams.
Timo Glock is a quick and relatively experienced driver with two years’ Toyota experience under his belt – he has been known to extract a silk purse from a sow’s ear, if his early exploits in the Jordan in 2004 were anything to go by. Paired with Lucas di Grassi, who has a lengthy test pedigree with Renault, both will provide a steady partnership to bring the project forwards, but will be lucky to score points this season.
If the team can use 2010 as a “bedding in” year to get the basics right, they will be a very good position come 2011.
- Backing from none other than the Virgin Empire, with a beautiful livery to boot.
- The capable Timo Glock as the team’s lead driver; he has been known to get more out of the car than what is usually perceived capable.
- Virgin’s all-CFD design is a huge risk; the last F1 car not see the inside of a wind-tunnel was the Mastercard Lola in 1997, and we all know how that turned out!
- Virgin’s poor reliability in pre-season testing – the VR-01 simply needs more miles.
What defines success in 2010?
- Prove the nay-sayers wrong and achieve respect in the F1 paddock
- Finish races. Bag a point.