Nick Wirth has spelled out the reasons why Virgin Racing will not be using KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) during its sophomore campaign of top flight competition in F1 2011 – explaining that with such a significant chunk of lap time to gain, the money was better spent on aerodynamic development.
Virgin's MVR-02 – the advent of the 'M' in deference to the team's new title sponsor and partner Marussia – was launched at the BBC Television Centre in London yesterday (Monday), and physically, at least, the car is a quantum leap forward over its uncompetitive and unreliable VR-01 predecessor.
Indeed, with reliability having been a noticeable Achilles' heel throughout the opening half of F1 2010 – the squad's maiden campaign on the grand prix grid – technical director Wirth concedes that it was a driving force in the thinking behind the MVR-02, as was the unconventional doctrine of CFD, to which he remains staunchly loyal.
“CFD is the future – I think what we are doing is pioneering a revolution in car design,” asserted the former Simtek owner. “Last year, that side of the whole equation worked really well, and we definitely had the numbers we thought we were going to have. For us, it was really just a logical progression from our championship-winning sportscar development.
“I think what caught us out was the challenge of reliability, especially the hydraulics and gearbox. Where we really fell behind our rival new teams is that we were hopelessly unreliable in the first few flyaway races, whilst they at least had a modicum of reliability – so that has been a massive focus for us for 2011.
“Midway through 2010, we calibrated ourselves in terms of 'How fast do we need to improve?' What do we have to work on?' We've done a huge amount of development with the physics in trying to catch up to everyone else who were using tricks like the blown-diffuser and F-duct and so on.
“We didn't have a blown-diffuser last year, and that has been a fantastic development for us – it was one of the key technologies of 2010. There are lots of interesting solutions in that regard, and we have one that we have focussed a lot of effort on and that we hope proves effective.
“It's been probably the most interesting winter I've ever had in terms of seeing the development of the car. There have been a lot of tough challenges, but from a technical point-of-view, I'm very lucky to have a fantastic management team around me, and that has allowed me to focus on what I'm most interested in – the technical side of things, and in particular aerodynamics.
“The process behind this car has been improved so much – in every single way, this car is faster and better than last year's car and we're just much better-prepared for this season. We are very happy with the solutions we have, and I can't wait for the drivers to take it out and see how it performs on the track.”