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Virgin Racing releases Nick Wirth

In the wake of its abject start to the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, Virgin Racing has announced that it has parted company with technical director Nick Wirth to 'take greater control of its own destiny'
To many, the news will come as little surprise in the light of the team's desperately poor start to the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, but now it has been confirmed that Virgin Racing has parted company with technical director and shareholder Nick Wirth in order to 'take greater control of its own destiny' and 'pursue an alternative technical path'.

Far from taking the fight to 2010 arch-rival Team Lotus, Virgin's sophomore season of top flight competition to-date has seen the team slip right back into the clutches of the hapless Hispania Racing, which failed even to test its own car ahead of the Melbourne curtain-raiser.

Six races into F1 2011, Virgin has tallied a best finish of just 14th place for rookie Jérôme d'Ambrosio in the Australian Grand Prix back in March, and neither the young Belgian nor team-mate Timo Glock have succeeded in qualifying any higher than 20th or getting to within half-a-second of Lotus, which conversely has threatened on occasion to genuinely challenge the midfield.

Wirth had asked to be judged only after an upgrade package was introduced to the under-par MVR-02 in last month's Turkish Grand Prix, but there was no discernible improvement at Istanbul Park, and indeed Glock was unable even to start the race following a gearbox failure.

Now, the price for that chronic lack of competitiveness has been paid, and in truth, the writing had been on the wall for some time. Just over two months ago, Glock rued that 'performance-wise, we moved backwards' over the winter and that Wirth's stubborn and perhaps misguided belief in the unconventional aerodynamic doctrine of CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) 'could be' the root cause of the team's woes [see separate story – click here].

Back at the launch of the new MVR-02 in February, Virgin's technical director had alluded to what he described as 'the miracle' and 'bigger picture' of CFD, and claimed that he was 'very much looking forward to the day when we make our real impact and everyone realises what we've achieved' [see separate story – click here].

McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale has similarly opined that CFD is 'vital' in F1, but at the same time cautioned that 'there's still a use for the wind tunnel' in aerodynamic development, too, and that to place all of a team's eggs into just one basket and rely solely upon the former as Wirth espoused 'would be a risk too far' just now [see separate story – click here].

Above and beyond the Englishman's departure, Virgin has terminated its three-year agreement with his technical and design services organisation Wirth Research, and SPEED.com reports that the decision was made in the wake of a board meeting in Monaco last weekend – at which the subject of discussion was not present, and in which, team consultant Pat Symonds offered a brutal appraisal of the situation.

“In November, 2010, sportscar manufacturer Marussia Motors acquired a significant shareholding in the Marussia Virgin Racing F1 Team, securing the team's future and underlining the marque's long-term commitment to F1,” explained Virgin Racing CEO Andy Webb in an official statement. “Over the past six months, Marussia and the board of directors have undertaken a comprehensive review in order to ensure that Marussia Virgin Racing has the strongest platform, team of people and resources in-place to achieve its long-term ambitions.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Wirth Research boss Nick Wirth [pic credit: Wirth Research]
John Booth, Team Principal, Virgin Racing & Nick Wirth, Technical Director, Virgin Racing
Nick Wirth (GBR), Technical Director, Marussia Virgin Racing
Nick Wirth (GBR), Technical Director, Marussia Virgin Racing with Andy Webb CEO of Marussia Racing
26.05.2011- Second Practice Session, Jerome D`Ambrosio (BEL), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
28.05.2011- Saturday Practice, Jerome D`Ambrosio (BEL), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
20.05.2011- Friday Practice 2, Timo Glock (GER), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
16.04.2011- Qualifying, Timo Glock (GER), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
08.04.2011- Friday Practice 2, Timo Glock (GER), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
21.02.2011- Timo Glock (GER), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
19.02.2011- Timo Glock (GER), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
20.05.2011- Friday Practice 2, Jerome D`Ambrosio (BEL), Marussia Virgin Racing VR-02
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Mechanics Red Bull work on the car of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Johnny Herbert (GBR), Max Chilton (GBR), Marussia F1 Team MR03 and Demon Hill (GBR)
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10 and Helmut Marko (AUT), Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Advisor

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USF1_Fan - Unregistered

June 02, 2011 12:17 PM

CFD is an amazing and useful bit of tech but it is not a magical cure-all. Nothing like real-world testing. Even wind tunnel testing is not 100%- thanks to possible errors in setup or calculations as has been proven this year by Ferrari. CFD has far more variables than a wind tunnel and if even one is slightly off than the results are garbage. One day it may be able to be used without a wind tunnel but that day is not yet here. Sorry Nick, but maybe you should have been more willing to add more well proven methods to the repertoire at Virgin. Now they will do so without you.

Rob01 - Unregistered

June 02, 2011 6:11 PM

He is penny pinching. When he lucked into the Brawn effort he received millions and millions in basically free advert for nothing. When Brawn asked him to up his ante he told Brawn NO. He attende all the races when the double diffuser put him in the winners cirlcle. He even went as far as hitting on button's girlfriend. Sure he made a good deal but when he got major returns on the small investment he didn't add to the effort. He then moved to Manor and backed some loans but still has yet to put real money into the team. And if it has nothing to do with Branson why the Virgin name? He wants his cake and eat it too.



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