Virgin Racing has revealed its first Formula 1 car, the VR-01, although its planned online launch was delayed by technical difficulties.
The VR-01 was due to be unveiled on the team's website this morning, the team having opted for an "all-digital" launch to mirror its "all-digital car" – reflecting the fact that design company Wirth Research created the car entirely using computational fluid dynamics rather than using a wind tunnel. But technical issues prevented the broadcast from taking place as planned, so the car has now been revealed via the team's website later than scheduled.
"Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing, however on this occasion, where the car is the star, I want to pay tribute to all the amazing people at Wirth Research who deserve so much of the credit for the VR-01," said designer Nick Wirth. "Putting together an F1 team, assembling an engineering group and designing a new car from scratch is an epic task in the time frame we have been working to.
"I have been fortunate to have worked with the very best designers in F1 and I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport. When you see what the existing teams have achieved using the conventional but proven design approach, it is unsurprising that there is a great deal of skepticism about our all-CFD approach.
"But we are competing in a sport that is undergoing significant change having come face to face with today's harsh economic realities. Under resource restriction, convention will become too costly and necessity really will be the mother of invention. I have absolute belief in the digital design process and the opportunity to put the all-CFD approach to the test at the highest level – to demonstrate that this could be the way for the future of F1 – is very, very exciting."
Virgin's F1 project was officially launched in December, when Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock were announced as its drivers. It fired the Cosworth-powered car up for the first time last week, and will conduct a shakedown at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday. The team will then join the rest of the F1 field for the second winter test at Jerez, where it will also become the first of the new entrants to test alongside the established squads.
While unwilling to make grand predictions for his car's debut, Wirth is quietly confident about the VR-01's prospects.
"We are a serious racing team with serious ambitions, so we aren't going to try to run before we can walk," he said. "The starting point is to try to run reliably, safely and efficiently and be the best of the new teams. Then we will start to bring performance to the car through a continuous development program in computer simulation."
He acknowledged that the CFD approach had limitations, but insisted wind tunnel testing was no different. "We fully expect to encounter issues along the way; CFD is an approximation – as is scale-model testing," Wirth said. "In both cases, it is only when you hit the track that you can really appreciate the effect of factors that are tricky to model with any technology such as the effect that the real stiffness of all bodywork components and joints has on the airflow, for example.
"We've done all of this before on both closed- and open-wheel cars, so I'm pretty confident in the accuracy of our predictions and looking forward to seeing how our starting configuration performs on the racetrack."