Marussia Virgin launches MVR-02 in London
Marussia Virgin launched its 2011 MVR-02 contender today in London during a media event at the BBC Television Center. The now Russian-Anglo Formula One team last year announced a partnership with the Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia, led by Nikolai Fomenko. Today the team confirmed they would compete under a Russian license, which means the Russian anthem will be played and the Russian flag will be flying in case the team wins a race, a very optimistic Fomenko already said last week when the switch was announced.
President of Marussia Virgin Racing Graeme Lowdon announced they had been given the go-ahead by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) for the switch, a switch which was very important for the team's Russian investors. Lowden about the Russian partnership, "It is a little bit more cosmopolitan now. It's not quite what racing under a different license would have been years and years ago, but for the whole team it would be a proud moment if we could see the [Russian] flag flying,"
In a bid to up their performance during the 2011 Formula One season -- the team finished 12th in the 2010 Constructors' Championship -- a management reshuffle has taken place. Marussia sports car's President Fomenko takes the position of Marussia Virgin's Engineering Director and is in charge of the team's technology programs.
Lowdon has now a new role as President of Marussia Virgin Racing and will also assume the position of Sporting Director, Andy Webb will take over Lowdon's role as CEO. Ian Phillips returns to Formula One as the team's Chief Operating Officer. John Booth, together with Nick Wirth and Lowden the original founders of the team, will continue his role as Team Principal, while Wirth remains Technical Director.
A closer look at the MVR-02
Like it's predecessor, the MVR-02 was exclusively designed with the aid of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), a technology that enables engineers to design a Formula One car and test its aerodynamical properties in a virtual computer environment. Marussia Virgin is the only team that exclusively uses CFD technology instead of using scale models and wind tunnels, which is still the traditional, but also expensive way of designing a Formula One car. Other teams consider this technology as a useful tool, but Nick Wirth and his design team totally rely on CDF and it is their main designing and testing tool.
Technical Director Wirth about the design process, "We are extremely pleased to have proved the digital design process in Formula One last season and to have demonstrated that it is possible to compete at the highest level of motor sport with a car designed wholly in computer simulation. Having said that, we faced a very steep learning curve and experienced some tough lessons, which we have applied to our design program for 2011."
The black and white painted nose of the car is less pointy and more round compared to last year's design, and the nose section is not as high as those of other teams. Again the front wing is constructed in such a way it not only generates down force, but the center section also guides the airflow neatly to the front part of the floor of the car, while the flaps and wing endplates are designed to optimize the airflow around the front tyres. The elaborate design of the wing flaps gives the front wing a futuristic look, and certainly wouldn't make a bad impression when displayed in a museum of modern arts.
The front part of the cockpit has the characteristic 'humps' on both sides, which guide the air over the cockpit section itself . The airbox is longer and the side pods have newly shaped air inlets, while the pods itself are still teardrop-shaped, the side pods are certainly not a radical new design, but more an evolutions of last year's model.
The rear section of the car is narrower, and the new adjustable rear wing is also slightly narrower. Overall, the car looks smoother and more detailed, and a number of new sponsors have a prominent place on the body of the car.
Asked whether the new regulations posed any problems Wirth replied: "As ever, the regulation changes presented some interesting challenges, in particular the introduction of a hydraulically actuated moveable rear wing. The provision for that was made early on, so we were able to integrate the technology into the brand new hydraulics package that we ran in Abu Dhabi where we took the opportunity to prove out a number of systems for the MVR-02."
After reliability problems with the Xtrack gearbox and hydraulic system frequently plagued the team in 2010. Wirth about the problems they has last year, "We have addressed every single issue that troubled us last year, but in our own unique digital way. For example the hydraulics and gearbox oil problems of last year have resulted in us doing more CFD in those areas alone than we used in the entire aero design program for our first digital race-winning sports car in 2008."
Marussia Virgin will be racing with the Cosworth engine again this year, and Booth is confident the engine will perform well this season, "We are delighted to be working with our engine supplier Cosworth for a second season of collaboration. Despite the freeze on engine development they have been working hard on reliability and performance optimization over the winter and we fully expect a continuation of the success they enjoyed in their return to the sport in 2010."
No KERS for Marussia Virgin
Like the other small teams, Marussia will not have the KERS (Kinetic Recovery System) system on board this season. The team is aiming for more reliability this season rather than counting on the few tenths of a second the KERS system would deliver. Also the costs of the system are a problem for the smaller teams. "It is extremely expensive and extremely heavy -- it is worth about three tenths of a second. We are after three seconds," Wirth explained during the reveal.
Drivers Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio
It will be Timo Glock's second year with Marussia Virgin, and the team has signed a new promising young driver.
Belgium Jerome d'Ambrosio, previously Renault test driver, will occupy the second car at Marussia Virgin, the 25-year old rookie began his race career in karting, but soon moved to single seater racing and won the Belgium Formula Renault championship. He joined the Renault F1 Driver Development program in 2004, and participated in the French Formula Renault 2-litre series that same year. He participated in several Renault championship series until he in 2007 joined the International Formula Master series which he convincingly won. He then moved to the GP2 and GP2 Asia series, racing fro the French DAMS team.
Booth is confident his drivers are ready for 2011, "We have a very exciting driver line-up in Timo Glock and Jerome d'Ambrosio. Timo did an exceptional job in difficult circumstances last season and contributed a great deal to the car's development and that of our racing team."
"We are also delighted to welcome Jerome in his debut season of Formula One competition. He did an excellent job during his evaluation period towards the end of last season and he demonstrated in testing last week that he clearly has the bit between his teeth. He is a very exciting young talent and we are enjoying seeing his clear potential unfold with each outing in the car," Booth said about his new Belgium prot?g?.
Marussia Virgin aiming to improve results in 2011
After a rookie year in Formula One, Marussia Virgin is aiming to improve their results. Team Principal Booth, "We had a tough but incredibly rewarding baptism into Formula One last season and I am extremely proud that we proved ourselves to be more than equal to the challenge. And added, "2011 is all about moving forward and starting to achieve solid results." Booth was upbeat about the MVR-02, "The MVR-02 is a clear step forward in every area and a credit to all the hard work that has gone into our car development program over the past 12 months."
So, what does the future hold for Marussia Virgin? "As ever, all will be revealed in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix next month, but in the meantime we look forward to what we hope will be a positive track debut for the MVR-02 in Jerez this week," a very positive Booth said today.
The second pre-season testing session will start on Thursday February 10 at the Circuito de Jerez in Spain, and ends on February 13. One week later teams will text at Barcelona, and the final pre-season test days will be at the Bahrain International Circuit one week ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.