Virgin Racing fires technical director as it changes direction

It's safe to say that Virgin Racing hasn't been a huge success so far. One of three new teams that joined the F1 grid last season, Virgin has largely been performing better than perennial back-markers HRT, but has failed to keep pace with Lotus, which is itself still far from competing with even the bottom end of the established teams like Williams and Toro Rosso. But Virgin has little intention of staying at the back, and to that end is shaking things up.

The first big change is to fire its technical director Nick Wirth (former technical director at Benetton and onetime owner of the Simtek F1 team), and jettison his consulting group Wirth Research that has assumed much of the team's development work until now. The team has stopped short of announcing Wirth's replacement, but former Renault technical director Pat Symonds – who left the sport in disgrace in the wake of the Crashgate scancal – has been consulting Virgin along the way and could be primed to move in.

With Wirth Research out of the picture, Virgin will have to start doing its own technical work. Reports indicate that it has its eye on moving into the British facility that at various points housed the Arrows and Super Aguri teams. It could also form a technical partnership with McLaren (much as Force India did) to help it get a leg up. Fresh capital from Marussia Motors could help the team get there, as it moves to abandon the more cost-effective Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) approach that it has used exclusively to design its cars until now in favor of actual wind-tunnel testing.

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