The recently rebranded Marussia Virgin Racing team unveiled its 2011 challenger in the unusual surroundings of BBC Television Centre in London, targeting an improvement in form and performance for its second season in F1.
The MVR-02, the second car to be designed entirely using computational fluid dynamics rather than extensive - and expensive - hours in a windtunnel, was revealed to an assembled crowd of media and guests as part of an innovative television production entitled An Audience with Marussia Virgin Racing
, which will air on the team's website later today [Monday]. The revised driver line-up of Timo Glock and rookie Jérôme d'Ambrosio were also introduced to the onlookers, many of whom were drawn from the team's social network followers.
The car is the first to bear the MVR chassis designation, following Russian performance car manufacturer Marussia's acquisition of a significant stake in the team at the end of last season, and team principal John Booth sees the change as indicative of the fresh approach being taken in season two. As one of three new teams in 2010, Virgin Racing was not expected to set the world alight, but suffered the early embarrassment of revealing that its fuel tank was too small to reach the end of races without extreme measures being taken, and the continued to battle hydraulic woes. It was eventually classified as the twelfth of twelve runners in the field, behind both Lotus Racing and HRT despite regularly matching the former for pace.
“We had a tough, but incredibly rewarding, baptism into F1 last season, and I am extremely proud that we proved ourselves to be more than equal to the challenge," Booth insisted, "We are also very proud to be competing as Marussia Virgin Racing in 2011 and we look forward to rewarding the faith that Marussia demonstrated in the team when it made such a significant investment at the end of last year.
“The MVR-02 is a clear step forward in every area and a credit to all the hard work that has gone into our car development programme over the past twelve months. We are delighted to be working with our engine supplier Cosworth for a second season of collaboration. Despite the freeze on engine development, they have been working hard on reliability and performance optimisation over the winter and we fully expect a continuation of the success they enjoyed in their return to the sport in 2010. The sport has the added challenge of a new tyre supplier in Pirelli, but we have made good progress with tailoring our mechanical package to suit the new PZero tyres in the group tests in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2010 and in Valencia last week."
Having decided to dispense with the technically savvy Lucas di Grassi in favour of the largely untried Jerome d'Ambrosio for 2011, Virgin runs the risk of struggling to get the best out of the car, but Booth is adamant that his changed line-up will be a strong one. d'Ambrosio is already known to the team, having run in five Friday practice sessions last season, and the team is confident that, with pre-season testing in Jerez and Barcelona to come with the new car, both drivers will be able to enter the first race with confidence.
“2011 is all about moving forward and starting to achieve solid results," Booth reiterated, "We have a very exciting driver line-up in Timo Glock and Jérôme d'Ambrosio. Timo did an exceptional job in difficult circumstances last season and contributed a great deal to the car's development and that of our racing team. We will certainly benefit from the continuity that Timo brings. He has been working very hard over the winter and is in top physical and mental shape for our second season together.
"We are also delighted to welcome Jerome in his debut season of F1 competition. He did an excellent job during his evaluation period towards the end of last season and he demonstrated in testing last week that he clearly has the bit between his teeth. He is a very exciting young talent and we are enjoying seeing his clear potential unfold with each outing in the car.”
“Generally, we have every reason to believe that 2011 will be a very exciting and positive experience for our team.”