Virgin Racing reveal details of the VR-01 03 Feb 2010
The new Virgin Racing team, one of four new entrants to the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, have published details of their debut race car - the Cosworth-powered VR-01, which has been designed entirely in the digital domain using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics). The black and red liveried car, which will be raced by Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi, was launched online on Wednesday and will begin a two-day shakedown test at Silverstone on Thursday.
It is the brainchild of Virgin Racings technical director, Nick Wirth, who has gained an international reputation for pioneering a purely CFD approach to car development, wholly designing, building and testing race cars in computer simulation without the need for expensive, resource-heavy scale-model wind tunnel testing.
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 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 todays 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.
Providing a more detailed insight into the new car, Wirth continued: The VR-01 is the product of an intensive exploration and appraisal of all the factors that go into creating a great racing car, coupled with the more specific parameters of the 2010 Sporting and Technical Regulations. The chassis design implications created by the refuelling ban were obviously considerable. The requirement to carry the entire race quantity of fuel creates significant packaging and optimisation challenges. Similarly, the reduction in the width of the front tyres and the effect that will have on front-end grip called for extensive modelling and simulation work since we had no data to refer to from previous years.
We believe we have achieved a car that has first-class design integrity and which will benefit from a high degree of aerodynamic efficiency and stability. Reliability has been a major focus and all key areas comply with the FIA safety regulations and crash test requirements for the impact structures - the nose, monocoque, side and rear impact structures - which are particularly stringent in light of the increased fuel load.
Regarding the teams prospects, Wirth added: We are a serious racing team with serious ambitions, so we arent going to try to run before we can walk. The starting point is to try to run reliably, safely and efficiently and be the best of the new teams. Then we will start to bring performance to the car through a continuous development programme in computer simulation. We fully expect to encounter issues along the way; CFD is an approximation - as is scale-model testing. In both cases, it is only when you hit the track that you can really appreciate the effect of factors that are tricky to model with any technology such as the effect that the real stiffness of all bodywork components and joints has on the airflow for example. Weve done all of this before on both closed and open-wheel cars, so Im pretty confident in the accuracy of our predictions and looking forward to seeing how our starting configuration performs on the race track.
We have two very focused and determined race drivers in Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi. The significant effort they have been putting in behind the scenes over the past couple of months in the simulator will prove invaluable as we start to translate our development work to the track-based testing phase.
It is also fantastic to be working with Cosworth as they embark on a new chapter in their F1 history. They are a strong company and I had the pleasure of racing against them when we were working in Indy cars, where they did a super job. The CA2010 is a nice package and the Cosworth engineers seem very determined to prove themselves again. Im sure people will see that Cosworth have done a great job.
Virgin Racing team principal, John Booth commented: Today is the culmination of a very emotional journey which really began in June last year when we celebrated the fantastic news that our entry into Formula One had been accepted. The celebrations were necessarily brief however, because we were already in a race against time to design and develop a race car at the same time as building a new team of people and premises.
I have always had the utmost confidence in Nick to design a good race car, just as he has the faith in the race team to make a good job of operating it. Having worked closely with the technical team over the past 10 months, I know that the VR-01 is the product of a very intensive and thorough design and development process and my excitement at seeing our first race car make its track debut later this week is shared by every single person involved with Virgin Racing.
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.