Last year, Virgin Racing popped its cherry with the VR-01 that led the team through a lackluster first season, finishing the 2010 Formula One World Championship dead last. The team failed to start one of its cars at two grands prix, retired fifteen times and scored a grand total of zero points in the standings.
Now with backing from Russian automaker Marussia Motors, the team has unveiled its Cosworth-powered 2011 challenger in the form of the MVR-02 in the hopes of a more competitive followup season. The car was unveiled at the BBC Television Centre in London, and followed the debuts from Ferrari, Lotus, Renault, Sauber, Mercedes, Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams and McLaren, leaving only Force India and HRT to follow suit.
With a similar design to its competitors (but a slightly lower nose cone) reflecting the latest tweaks to the formula, the MVR-02 will be driven again by Germany's former GP2 champion and Toyota F1 driver Timo Glock. Partnering Glock this season is the Belgian former International Formula Master champion and GP2 Asia Series runner-up Jérôme d'Ambrosio, who replaces axed Brazilian driver Lucas di Grassi.
Follow the jump for the full press release from Virgin and check out the high-resolution images in the gallery below.
[Source: Marussia Virgin Racing]
Together with Marussia Virgin Racing's vision for the future
Television Centre, London
Monday 7 February 2011, 12.00 GMT
The Marussia Virgin Racing Formula One team has unveiled its 2011 season challenger – the MVR-02 – at the BBC's Television Centre in London, where the team also took the opportunity to outline its vision for 2011 and beyond following last week's management restructure.
The MVR-02, the team's second car to be designed entirely using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), will contend the 20 Grands Prix on the 2011 Formula One World Championship calendar, with the team's new driver line-up, Germany's Timo Glock and Belgium's Jérôme d'Ambrosio, who makes his Formula One debut with the team this season.
The car is the first to bear the MVR chassis designation, following Russian performance car manufacturer Marussia's acquisition of a significant stake in the team at the end of last season. Marussia Virgin Racing bucked the trend of a trackside roll-out and instead opted to reveal the MVR-02 during a recorded television production - 'An Audience with Marussia Virgin Racing' – which took place in front of a packed audience of Media and Team Partners at the famous television studios. True to the team's commitment to its burgeoning fan base, Marussia Virgin Racing also welcomed a large contingent of its social media followers to the event and they were at the heart of the action as the wraps came off the new car in Studio 1. The television production will be broadcast later today via the team's website www.marussiavirginracing.com, with programming schedules available via @marussiavirgin on Twitter.
As the team embarks on its second season of Formula One competition, Marussia Virgin Racing Team Principal John Booth, commented:
"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. We are also very proud to be competing as Marussia Virgin Racing in 2011 and we look forward to rewarding the faith that Marussia demonstrated in the team when it made such a significant investment at the end of last year.
"2011 is all about moving forward and starting to achieve solid results. We have a very exciting driver line-up in Timo Glock and Jérôme 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 will certainly benefit from the continuity that Timo brings. He has been working very hard over the winter and is in top physical and mental shape for our second season together. 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."
"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 programme over the past 12 months. 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 optimisation over the winter and we fully expect a continuation of the success they enjoyed in their return to the sport in 2010. The sport has the added challenge of a new tyre supplier in Pirelli but we have made good progress with tailoring our mechanical package to suit the new PZero tyres in the group tests in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2010 and in Valencia last week.
"Generally, we have every reason to believe that 2011 will be a very exciting and positive experience for our team."
Providing the technical perspective on the new MVR-02, Technical Director Nick Wirth, commented:
"We were extremely pleased to have proved our 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 programme for 2011.
"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 these areas alone than we used in the entire aero design program our first digital race-winning sportscar in 2008. In Abu Dhabi we took the opportunity to prove out these digital improvements by successfully track-testing a number of systems for the MVR-02. So we start 2011 as we mean to go on – rather more ahead of the game – by going testing in Jerez this week with many parts already proven on the race track, or by an upgraded and more comprehensive rig-test program.
"In terms of sheer CFD throughput, the number of configurations that our new processes have allowed us to test for the MVR-02 is a giant step forward from the VR-01, and we are looking forward to further improvements here as we finally begin to benefit from the new Supercomputer that our partners CSC have provided for 2011.
"I am confident that we have made real progress with the MVR-02, producing a car with considerably more aerodynamic efficiency than the VR-01 despite the regulation changes, and having made significant gains in terms of overall quality. It provides a good basis for development over the course of the season, and I'm very sure we'll be able to keep up the impressive rate of aero development that we've had since the beginning of the MVR-02 project.
"We also have the added challenge of a new tyre supplier in Pirelli and this helps level the playing field as the teams' experience of the PZero tyres will be limited to only two days of testing in Abu Dhabi and 2011 pre-season testing in Spain and Bahrain. Wirth Research has nearly four years of real-time driver simulator development experience now, and our ability to produce very realistic thermal tyre models in-house has been of great benefit. We were very encouraged by the positive feedback both drivers have given our simulator group on their recent developments in this crucial area.
"As ever, the competitive level of this first iteration of the MVR-02 will only 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."
Marussia Virgin Racing's new CEO, Andy Webb, revealed the philosophy behind the team's 2011 challenge:
"First of all I am delighted to be joining the team at such an exciting stage in its development. The changes we announced last week represent only good news for Marussia Virgin Racing as we bring the strength in depth required to move us forward.
"The watchwords of our 2011 challenge are Ambition, Progress, and Distinctive. Firstly, this team has serious ambitions and we have a clear plan towards being able to compete at the front of the grid. The team's racing aspirations are underpinned by Marussia's ambitious plans to position itself firmly on the worldwide automotive radar and we look forward to a great deal of exciting collaboration between the two programmes.
"Secondly, the team has made enormous progress over the past 12 months. It shouldn't be forgotten that this time last year it was still establishing its operational base and putting into place some of the logistical building blocks that other teams have enjoyed for many seasons. We now have a robust racing operation and we have made the necessary further investments required to help move us further up the grid, whilst adhering to the responsible business philosophy under which the team was founded and the spirit of the Resource Restriction Agreement. With the help of CSC we have doubled the computing power of the CFD design programme and we have of course the strengthened management team to steer us towards a successful future. That is a great deal of progress in such a short space of time.
"Last but far from least, we want to be distinctive, to forge our own path. Marussia Virgin Racing has its own operational style and team culture and this is how we will go racing and engage with our Partners and our fans. To underpin this we have created a very exciting new look and feel for the team in terms of our brand design, elements of which have been revealed at today's launch through our car livery and the Tavis Coburn visual identity. As the representative for Marussia during its partnership with the team in its debut season, I am ideally placed to comment on the benefits that an association with the team can bring – the team is now, after all, called Marussia Virgin Racing. We look forward to rewarding the faith of our existing partners and to welcoming new brands who can share in the commercial possibilities that Marussia now enjoys."
Commenting on behalf of Marussia, Nikolay Fomenko, President of Marussia Motors and Marussia Virgin Racing's new Engineering Director, commented:
"Last season the Marussia brand featured on the VR-01; this year we are extremely proud that Marussia is not only integrated into the livery but also the name of the car and the team. I'm particularly pleased that we will be operating under a Russian license in 2011, which means that we can look forward to seeing our national flag being raised on the occasion of our first podium finish! In 2011 our objective is to finish every race and regularly compete in Q2. We need to continually make small but significant steps this season to move us up the field. I am excited about the potential in the future to benefit from exchanging ideas on technology between the F1 team and the road car programme."