Glock doubts Virgin will reach midfield in 2011

2011 F1 season preview


Virgin MVR-02
Car: MVR-02
#24 Timo Glock
#25 Jerome d’Ambrosio
Form 2006-2010: n/a, n/a, n/a, n/a, 12
2010 points: 0

Virgin are the third of the ‘sophomore teams’ looking to catch up to the midfield this year.

But having driven the new MVR-02 Timo Glock has doubts about their chances of catching the likes of Sauber and Toro Rosso.

Speaking to Reuters yesterday he said: “I think we will have to wait for the bigger upgrade which comes to Turkey where everyone will bring an update.

“As far as I see it at the tests, we are still away from the midfield teams and [getting into] Q2 will be difficult. Especially Toro Rosso picked up quite a lot of speed over the winter and they look very strong. Sauber as well.

“They were all the teams where I thought we could catch up a bit more but they made quite a big step and we still have to make a big one. It looks like we are a bit behind the target at the moment.”

Glock was unable to drive the car in the final test of the year as he was recovering from surgery but he should be on the grid in Melbourne.

Another year toiling away at the back of the field would have an obvious effect Glock’s morale. He drove some excellent races last year but never even had a sniff of a points finish.

He’s joined by new team mate Jerome d’Ambrosio this year, who impressed the team in his Friday practice appearances last year.

Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin, Barcelona, 2011

Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin, Barcelona, 2011

While the MVR-02 may be lacking in performance, the reliability of their car looks more promising than it did 12 months ago.

Reliability was a serious problem last year for Virgin, who had more mechanical failures in races than any of their rivals.

They seem to have improved on that front heading into the new season, having covered almost the same distance with their new car in testing as Lotus did, despite not running it at the first test.

The absence of KERS, though not good for performance, could help them ensure early-season reliability.

Virgin are manufacturing their own transmission, as they did last year, while fellow 2010 entrants Lotus and HRT have switched to Red Bull and Williams units respectively.

What is also unchanged is the team’s radical approach to car design. Technical director Nick Wirth continues to shun wind tunnels and develop the car entirely using Computational Fluid Dynamics – a significant cost saving for the team.

While he retains a high level of confidence in the approach but other teams (the wealthiest of which split their development work 50-50 between CFD and wind tunnels) remain sceptical.

Virgin have attracted increased backing from Russian sports car firm Marussia Motors, who have invested in the team. Marussia president Nikolai Fomenko is named as Virgin’s ‘engineering director’.

This will hopefully put this team of modest resources on a sounder financial footing. That may prove important, as their prospects of finishing in the top ten this year, and therefore earning prize money, already look quite slim.

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30 comments on Glock doubts Virgin will reach midfield in 2011

  1. Oliver said on 16th March 2011, 0:49

    Wirth is just a difficult man. It won’t cost the team a fortune to lease a wind tunnel to validate their CFD results.
    Saying the performance of the car tallies with the CFD prediction doesn’t mean anything.
    It only just shows that your CFD model is accurate but your designs are deficient.

    All the teams know CFD is the future, but they know that future is still way ahead.
    Sauber have their Albert1 and Albert2 very expensive multiprocessor supercomputers. Albert1 cost Sauber over 20 Million dollars. I don’t know how much Albert2 cost BMW but likely to be more expensive.
    Despite that investment they still use wind tunnels for speed and accuracy in verifying promising designs, while their CFD is used to analyse preliminary design concepts and eliminating failed concepts.

    Virgin can’t afford to be stuck at the back for too long. It isn’t the first time Wirth has had a back of the grid team. But he has to stop being a dreamer and do the sensible thing. It won’t be funny if HRT, who have built their car from parts clobbered together from different garage sales, end up being just as fast as the Virgin.

    I just wonder how long before they start to question this partnership.

  2. HRT has a william’s rearend? Is there hope for them yet. I bet its not that tight rearend that Williams is showing off this year. That kind of sounded obscene didn’t it?

  3. verstappen said on 16th March 2011, 9:05

    I think Virgin was/is hampered by
    unreliability; more driving would’ve meant more data to build your CFD models on
    stupid fuel tank issue; if they didn’t need to redesign their car midseason then they would’ve had more time for real development
    Glock not being able to drive at last test; d’Ambrosio is probably a very good driver, but as I’ve posted before, we saw with HRT what experience can do. HRT gained a lot of time, only by getting more experience in setting up the car. At Virgin they still have to wonder how much of the deficit to the others is about the car, the set up or maybe even the driver. It’s ‘only’ one test, but they did miss out on a lot of data.

    All these things multiply the difficulties with relying on CFD only. One day at a windtunnel would probably give them a lot more understanding of the car, but I still like their unconventional approach and applaud them for sticking to it!

  4. RaulZ said on 16th March 2011, 10:13

    I think Virgin problems doesn’t have anything to do with CFD. With this technology they made a car faster than Dallara HRT with a wind tunnel.

    They had reliability problems related to hidraulic and “how to make your car work properly” but nothing to do with speed, aerodynamics, etc…

    So, the real problem of Virgin is not solved I think. HRT solved them last year, and now they have last year william’s technology (no problems with gearbox again).

    I won’t bet for Virgin winning HRT. But I have to say that HRT marketing is worse and so HRT is like the worst team. Well, I’m not really sure because that marketing is making everybody speak about HRT all the time. You can see the amount of comments in their news here.

    Anyway, the best luck to Virgin.

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