Nick Wirth, the technical director of the new Virgin Racing team, has revealed that the team is set to hit the track with its new car for the first time in February.
The team officially launched its plans for the 2010 F1 during an event in London, with confirmation that Lucas di Grassi will come in to partner Timo Glock as the Manor GP-run outfit makes it debut in the sport.
Virgin's car has already garnered plenty of interest due to the fact that Wirth's company Wirth Research is producing the car using CFD technology and without the use of a windtunnel – as was the case with the successful Acura sportscars in the American Le Mans Series.
The car, known as the VR-01, will now hit the track early in the new year and Wirth said he was confident the team wouldn't just be making up the numbers.
“This is an incredible day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing,” he said. “The past year has been something of a rollercoaster ride as we first conceived the idea of entering Formula 1 and then navigated the route to our launch today in twelve very busy but rewarding months. I am immensely proud to be part of a team that isn't simply 'making it to the grid', but which has surpassed even our wildest expectations - technically, in our racing operation and also commercially.
"Here we are, a fully fledged Formula 1 team with our first car well underway. Our crash testing performance has been exemplary and we are progressing very much on plan towards the roll-out of the VR-01 in February. We have a fantastic driver line-up in Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi and we're delighted to welcome Alvaro Parente in the role of test and reserve driver. Everything has really come together for us and I for one cannot wait to see what this incredible team of people can achieve together as Virgin Racing.”
Wirth added that he was delighted to once again be involved in F1 after his previous stints with his own Simtek team and with Benetton ended when he became disillusioned with the sport.
“When I left the sport in '99 I admit that I was disappointed and disillusioned," he said. "I felt that Formula 1 had become like Boeing versus Airbus. Teams were spending a million pounds a year on wheel nuts, with hundreds of engineers battling against each other for supremacy. I had absolute belief in the digital design approach but I knew I would have to wait for the F1 world to change.
"So we decided to prove the process in the USA, first in Indy Car and then in Sports Cars, in which we achieved phenomenal success. As soon as I heard about the proposals for a budget-capped Formula 1, the opportunity to prove the all-CFD approach at the highest level was too exciting for words.
"F1 under resource restriction? Welcome to my world."