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 J?r?me 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 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.

"Integral to this review has been an evaluation of the technical direction of Marussia Virgin Racing. Marussia's goal remains to be in a position to be able to challenge for a podium finish in the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in Sochi in 2014. With this in-mind, it is readily apparent that the team must take major steps in order to accelerate its rate of improvement.

"Consequently, the decision has been taken that the team will take greater control of its own destiny. Accordingly, having consulted fully with our existing technical partner during the course of the past few weeks, we have been obliged to terminate our relationship with them.

"Looking ahead, we will now be pursuing an alternative technical path and look forward to announcing our plans in more detail over the coming weeks. Most importantly, I believe that the steps we are taking in terms of our technical leadership and operational excellence will provide us with the robust foundation required to go on and achieve our performance objectives in the years ahead. These are bold but positive steps that will enable us to move forward with confidence.

"At this stage, I would like to underline our continued commitment to a cost-efficient commercial model. We maintain our absolute belief in CFD as a technology, especially since it continues to become more cost-effective with every year. Naturally, we will continue to use every means at our disposal to improve the aerodynamics of our car with immediate effect.

"At this time of year, it is commonplace for all teams to start looking ahead to the following racing year, whilst continuing to develop the existing car for the remaining races of the current season. The upgrades we have planned for the summer races are now passing from the design phase to the production stage, and more-and-more of our focus is turning to 2012.

"In light of our long-term plans, we will continue to aggressively pursue this strategy, but as next year's regulations contain few changes, we hope that some of the development work aimed at the MVR-03 may also find its way onto the current car."

One school of thought suggests that Marussia is keen to develop a proper technical facility of its own, whilst separate speculation in Italiaracing magazine muses that Virgin may be in talks with McLaren and Mercedes regarding a potential technical collaboration in 2012, ? la that currently provided to Force India and to include engine, transmission, KERS and rear suspension.

Not only would this represent a change of direction for the John Booth-led outfit after a season-and-a-half of struggles, but it could also leave engine-supplier Cosworth out in the cold.

"The reality is, competition on the track technically is always matched by competition off the track commercially," reflected Mark Gallagher, the boss of the British marque that is similarly rumoured to be in danger of losing Williams to Renault power. "We are well-used to that at Cosworth, and we believe we have an extremely good product and don't really fear competition from anyone."