F1 2010 season preview: Virgin

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

The Virgin VR-01 was designed without using a wind tunnel
The Virgin VR-01 was designed without using a wind tunnel

Virgin were the first of the new teams to appear on the track in testing. But they’ve suffered mechanical and aerodynamic gremlins with their VR-01.

How will they fare against the other newcomers, and can they trouble any of the established teams in their first season?

Car design

Virgin has put its faith in a car designed entirely using Computational Fluid Dynamics meaning neither the VR-01 nor models of it have seen the inside of a wind tunnel.

The car was designed by Nick Wirth?s company Wirth Research, who previously designed Acura?s ARX sports cars exclusively using CFD. But transferring that approach to single-seat F1 cars will be difficult.

Wirth says he is returning to F1 (after unsuccessful stints with Simtek and Benetton in the 1990s) because the Resource Restriction Agreement will allow teams to compete on ingenuity rather than who can spend the most. Using CFD instead of wind tunnel testing is a cheaper way of going racing ?ǣ but will it prove as successful?

The team ?ǣ which is essentially the Manor Grand Prix operation but now backed by former Brawn sponsors Virgin – were the first of the new contenders to test their car, but quickly ran into trouble.

A failure in the hydraulics stopped their tests on several occasions and the team are waiting to test their latest fix for it once Grand Prix practice begins on Friday.

More worryingly the front wing came off during the Jerez test due to a component failure. The team believe the problem is now fixed and there was no repeat of the problem during the subsequent tests.

Driver line-up

Timo Glock completed his move to the team shortly after Toyota announced they wouldn?t be competing this year.

At the time he was highly complimentary about going to work for a small, British team – but that might just have been a hangover from spending the last two years at Toyota?s vast and unwieldy Cologne operation.

His leg has fully healed after his season-ending crash at Suzuka.

For Lucas di Grassi, making his F1 debut with Virgin marks something of a homecoming.

He drove for Manor?s F3 team in 2005, finishing third in the European series behind the dominant ASMs of Lewis Hamilton and Adrian Sutil, but winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix.

Having been close to an F1 drive with Renault in the past, di Grassi has finally got the F1 break he’s been expected to land for a couple of years.

Strengths

They hit the ground running early, have the best-looking car on the grid and a big-name backer.

Weaknesses

Is Glock ready to be a team leader? After their troubles in testing merely finishing a race will be a triumph.

Poll: championship position

Expect a tooth-and-nail fight with Lotus for ??best newbie?? honours. Where will Virgin place in 2010?

Where will Virgin finish in the 2010 Constructors' Championship?

  • 1st (1%)
  • 2nd (0%)
  • 3rd (0%)
  • 4th (0%)
  • 5th (1%)
  • 6th (1%)
  • 7th (1%)
  • 8th (3%)
  • 9th (6%)
  • 10th (20%)
  • 11th (35%)
  • 12th (27%)
  • 13th (7%)

Total Voters: 802

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2010 F1 season