Marussia Virgin Racing is predicting a "very big" step forward from its 2011 car as it ramps up preparations for its second season in Formula 1.
Having made solid progress during 2010 from a far-from-easy start to its time in F1, thanks to front wing and fuel tank issues, the team is upbeat that it will do much better this time around.
Virgin Racing confirmed on Thursday that it is doubling its CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) capacity for 2011 after strengthening its relationship with IT services company SCS. Technical director Nick Wirth reckons the knowledge gained during its debut season, allied to the extra computing power, will pay dividends this year.
"We see gain upon gain coming," he said at the AUTOSPORT International motorsports show on Thursday. "The increased productivity and throughput is amazing – and the new car is a very big step forward from the 2010 car.
"We are excited about putting these new things to use on the car, and we have tried to learn from all our lessons last year to bring it all together. I think it is going to be a very interesting season. We have new tires, new rules, and a movable rear wing. No one knows how that [the wing] will work on the racing, but it will have an enormous effect on how the engines are used. There are a whole range of things that will be different this year, and we want to make a step forward up the grid to show what we can do."
With the new CFD facility due for completion in the next few weeks, Wirth believes his team will be unmatched in terms of how much it uses computer simulation to design its 2011 car.
"With the way F1 is governed, there is a limit to how much you can do [of either wind tunnel work or CFD]," he said. "Teams like McLaren and Red Bull Racing will use a wind tunnel and a bit of CFD, but when we understood our [CFD] quota we realized we needed to make a huge step forward and use all of our possible aerodynamic development [allowance].
"We formed a fantastic relationship with CSC, which has helped us install a new computer system in our technology center in Banbury [UK], and it means we will be the first team to go to the limit of aero testing only in CFD. In 2011, we will be doing more CFD than any other team on the grid – and I can say that because I know that if we did one day of wind tunnel testing then we would be breaking the rules."
Virgin's CEO Graeme Lowdon added: "It's great to no longer to be a new team, as we are going into our second season now.
"2010 was very much about getting established in a very short time, to get the team put in place, and we are very excited about 2011. We follow a different path than the other teams. We're focused on new technology and using the processes Nick has pioneered. We're very excited about moving into 2011 and making use of that."