2011 Season Preview – Virgin

Team Name : Marussia Virgin Racing

Location : Sheffield, UK

Team Principal : John Booth

Technical Director : Nick Wirth

Drivers : Timo Glock, Jerome d’Ambrosio

Chassis : MVR-02

Engine : Cosworth CA2011

First Season : 2010

Races Entered : 19

Pole Positions : 0

Race wins : 0

Points scored in 2010 : 0

World Championships : 0

Virgin Racing were one of the three new teams that were granted an entry into the 2010 championship, and had a rather action-packed season last year. Maybe that’s a bit too kind. Maybe chaotic would be a better description. But either way, the Sheffield-based squad endured a disappointing start to their F1 campaign, finishing dead last in the 2010 championship. The team started out as Manor Grand Prix, run by Manor Motorsport, a successful racing outfit in lower categories of motorsport.

Although no one expected any miracles from them, it was still a surprise to many that the significantly slower HRT team managed to beat them to 11th in the constructors’ standings. Although Virgin Racing had the edge in performance, their car was consistently unreliable – and a flawed fuel tank design at the start did little to help the proceedings. It meant that the team had no realistic chance of scoring any championship points, even in a race of high attrition or with erratic weather conditions.

Virgin were the sole team in the field to have designed the entire car using only CFD and the team gave the impression that they preferred to do it that way. Maybe if they had a bigger bundle of cash they may have used a wind tunnel. Who knows? But at the end of the day, a team has to make do with what it has, and Virgin made good progress over the season, with the car getting noticeably quicker compared to the other new entrants. Sadly, reliability problems cost them heavily throughout the season, With enhanced backing from Marussia Motors this season, the team may surprise Lotus and HRT this time round.

Drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi can hardly be judged while driving such a poor car, but Timo did reasonably well to put pressure on the Lotus drivers on several occasions, while di Grassi was largely erratic and made a few costly driving errors that meant the team replaced him with Jerome d’Ambrosio for 2011.

Testing form has shown nothing unusual, but the team ought to focus strongly on reliability to take advantage of the odd slip-up from Toro Rosso or Sauber. Likewise, they will have to outrun their nearest rivals in the development race – and given their resources vis-a-vis Lotus and Toro Rosso, that will be a mighty feat to pull off.

Technical Director Nick Wirth is an experienced chap, and the team are counting on him to take the team forwards. With a reasonably stable future, Marussia Virgin Racing will look upon 2011 as an opportunity to move closer to the established runners, with any luck, maybe even a point or two. Fortunately for them, the other new teams are also not running KERS this year. Even so, in what is expected to be a ultra-competitive season of F1, Virgin may have a difficult season ahead of them.


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