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Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Synopsis: Another of F1’s 2010 debutantes, one would have thought Virgin Racing would come to the show well heeled. In fact, the team acted as one of the sport’s minnows, drawing the ire of Bernie Ecclestone. Originally accepted as Manor Grand Prix, the team boasts the experienced John Booth as the Sporting Director and Nick Wirth as the technical director. The car, the VR-01, is the first F1 car designed entirely using CFD computer simulation technology. The team shrugged off some early season woes to challenge Lotus as the best of the newbies in 2010.
Highlight: Several double finishes, including best of the new teams in Turkey. The team has shown a computer designed car within a budget could survive a season in the sport, though not competitively. Several sponsorship agreements reached over the course of the year seem likely to result into increased investment in the team.
Lowlight: Embarrassingly, the team developed a fuel tank too small to complete a race. The team was allowed to redesign the chassis rather than be forced to run at reduced speed.
- Timo Glock deserved an opportunity after Toyota pulled out of F1 at the end of the season, and Virgin gave him that chance. He consistently had the better of his teammate, and seems set to retain the position.
- Lucas di Grassi’s position may be more up in the air, depending on what new Russian sponsor Marussia is looking for. Di Grassi completed Virgin’s first finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix, but did not necessarily distinguish himself as a rising talent in 2010.
A look ahead: Is Richard Brandon serious about F1? Red Bull proved commitment can face off the established big guns, but Branson so far seems to enjoy dabbling in the sport. He had his shot at Brawn, yet chose to start from scratch. Rumor has it Wirth has a limited window to produce. Given the lessons learned in 2010, can computer design truly create a competitive car on a budget? Will the injection of cash from sponsors help propel the team forward? A lot of questions, and not many answers. Virgin is a bit of a mystery. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six
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