Virgin Racing has become the first of the four new entrants into F1 to reveal details of its car for the 2010 season – despite a delay to the planned online launch.
While the team has revealed details about the VR-01 and the first image of the machine, the actual launch itself was delayed by technical issues, with the unveiling of the car now set to come later today.
The VR-01, which will be driven this season by former Toyota man Timo Glock and F1 rookie Lucas di Grassi, has been designed solely using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) – with no use of a wind tunnel.
While a new idea for F1, CFD has been used by Virgin Racing technical director Nick Wirth in recent years to design the successful Acura LMP machines and he said he was delighted to see the new Virgin F1 car become a reality.
“Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing,” Wirth said. “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.”
Wirth added that he was confident that the VR-01 will be a strong package with which the team can make its F1 bow, although he admitted it was important for the team not to try and 'run before it can walk' and that the CFD approach could present some problems.
“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,” he said. “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.
“We are a serious racing team with serious ambitions, so we aren't 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.
“We've done all of this before on both closed and open-wheel cars, so I'm pretty confident in the accuracy of our predictions and looking forward to seeing how our starting configuration performs on the race track.”