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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2010 eval: Virgin Racing

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 15:  Sir Richard Branson attends the media launch for the new Virgin Racing team at the Louise Blouin Foundation on December 15, 2009 in Notting Hill, London, England.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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.

Points: 0

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.

May 29, 2010 - Istanbul, Turkey - F1 GP of Turkey, Istanbul 27.- 30. May 2010..Lucas Di Grassi [BRA] Virgin Racing.

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.


Mar. 25, 2010 - Melbourne, AUSTRALIA - epa02091334 Brazilian Formula One driver Luca di Grassi (L) of Virgin Racing and German teammate Timo Glock (R) walk on the paddock at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, Australia, 25 March 2010. The Formula One Grand Prix of Australia will take place on 28 March 2010.

  • 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.

ITAR-TASS: SHEFFIELD, GREAT BRITAIN. NOVEMBER 12, 2010. Pilots of the Virgin Racing Formula One team Lucas Di Grassi (BRA), Timo Glock (GER) and Nikolai Fomenko, CEO of Marussia Motors company and a well-known musician, showman and car-racer, L-R, pose for a photo after Marussia Motors has signed an investment contract with the Virgin Racing Formula One team. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Marussia Motors press service) Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

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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