McLaren adopts Virgin Racing for charity
Virgin Racing has today confirmed a technical partnership with frontrunner McLaren alongside the purchase of former technical partner Wirth Research Technology.
The moves, which came at undoubtedly considerable cost, signify the team’s intent to move up the field, with their season’s progress thus far being below expectation. Virgin are currently last in the constructors’ championship.
The McLaren tie-up will see the pseudo-Russian team gain access to their facilities in Woking as well as a number of McLaren’s technical crew.
‘Our Technical Partnership with McLaren is very exciting indeed,’ said Andy Webb, CEO of Virgin Racing.
‘We can benefit enormously from McLaren’s far-reaching techniques and capabilities and I have no doubt that this partnership will see us take the technical steps necessary to make a significant leap forwards.’
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh wishes them well.
‘Under the terms of this technical partnership, Marussia Virgin Racing will be able to access McLaren’s wind tunnel, simulator, rigs, and fitness and wellbeing programmes,’ he said.
‘These properties are state-of-the-art, and we confidently therefore expect Marussia Virgin Racing to derive significant benefits from them.’
‘[Virgin Racing] are very serious about making developments that will lift the competitiveness of their cars over the coming months and years.’
There are also rumours that the team are looking to switch from Cosworth to Mercedes power, though no deal has yet been reached.
The technical deal also marks the end of Vrigin’s exclusive use in CFD technology to design their cars.
Virgin originally entered into Formula One with then technical director Nick Worth asserting that a competitive car could be built cheaper without the use of wind tunnels, currently an accepted necessity in chassis design.
The team’s failure to move forward this year – which has seen them outpaced by the perennially cash-strapped HRT – led to the sacking of Wirth, along with the breaking of ties to Wirth’s research company WRT.
Webb: he looks tough
Virgin has since bought Wirth Research Technology – including their newly-upgraded CFD design lab – outright and will continue to use it as plans a drawn up to build their own purpose-built factory over the next two years.
‘Our three-centre operation has served us well in our formative years but our ambitions for the future will rely on the full might of the team coming together under one roof,’ continued Webb.
‘Our acquisition of the WRT Formula One business ensures continuity of technical infrastructure for the period ahead, which means that the transition to working with our new technical partner can begin immediately and is not frustrated by logistical considerations.’
Pat Symonds, currently working as a hands-off consultant with Virgin, was also referenced as a factor in the team’s decision.
Symonds, whose involvement in Formula One is limited until 2013 due to his implications in the 2008/2009 ‘crashgate’ scandal, was hired this year in an attempt to steer the team in the right direction after their disappointing start to the season.
‘With Pat Symonds’ continued involvement in the technical programme, we are confident that we have made all the right moves towards a successful future for Marussia Virgin Racing.
‘We now head into one of the most important events for our team, the British Grand Prix, with renewed confidence and a great deal of excitement about the future.’