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Virgin escape tunnel vision and gamble on radical car
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Virgin escape tunnel vision and gamble on radical car
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Feb 2010   |  12:52 pm GMT  |  96 comments

The new Virgin Racing team today became the first of the new teams to unveil their 2010 car.

It is quite appropriate timing as the debate intensifies about new teams, their viability and the possibility that they are to be allowed to miss up to three races this season.

Picture 58
Virgin have distanced themselves from that debate with this new car, which in itself is a mould breaker as it was designed entirely using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) with no time whatsoever in a wind tunnel. It is the first time in F1 that this approach has been taken.

At the launch of the new team, Sir Richard Branson made a big fuss of the fact that he likes innovators and pioneers and he has fully backed Nick Wirth’s revolutionary approach. It is a big gamble though and if it backfires and the car lacks downforce or has aerodynamic stability issues, then it will be embarrassing.

But Wirth is very confident that this will not happen.

“I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport, ” he said. “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 scepticism 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.”

By not having a wind tunnel and a department to run it Wirth and Virgin have saved themselves a significant amount of money and around 60 to 100 jobs. Among the technical team assembled by Wirth is Christian Silk, the highly experienced ex Renault engineer.

The car will run for the first time in a shakedown test at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday.

Team principal John Booth said, “It was always intended that we would miss the first all-team test in Valencia this week and very early on we targeted the second Jerez test in two weeks’ time for our public testing debut. It is a testament to our methodical approach and the sheer hard work of the team that we are heading to Spain a week earlier than planned to take part in the first Jerez test next week.”

Assuming reasonable reliability, this will allow them to put up to 4,500 kilometres onto the new car before the first race in Bahrain.

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96 Comments
  1. James D says:

    It’s very pretty. Once of the prettiest out of this seasons (I bet the Red Bull will be nice though). I really like the fact that many of the cars look pretty different from eachother and that this one is no exception.

    I wish them well.

  2. Virgopunk says:

    I’m not sure that CFD is all it’s cracked up to be since they appear to have forgotten to put the wing mirrors on the car!

    1. rpaco says:

      A mechanic is on his way back from Halfords right now!

    2. Gojohnny says:

      They’ve put mirrors on all right, and not a pair of daft outboard type mirrors on fins either!

      Think how much carbon fibre and electricity they must have saved not have a wind tunnel! I am really not a big fan of computer technology in sport, but in this case where it is being used innovatively to improve design and production efficiency I am right behind it. This seems like a new breed of team and I’m hoping Dickie Branson has backed a future winner.

      They are asking people to suggest names to christen the cars with… any ideas anyone?

      1. Tom in Australia says:

        My suggestions would be “Mary” and “40 year old”.

      2. Ahlapski says:

        Sorry they don’t use carbon fibre, the use clay….

      3. Jost says:

        Well the 50% rear F1 wing model I had the opportunity to test in our universities wind-tunnel a few month ago was definitly not out of clay or carbon fibre. In retrospect I’m not sure whether it was aluminium or stainless steal, but i’d go for aluminium since most models in high speed aero (transsonic and supersonic applications) are made of it.

        Jost

    3. ardugpc says:

      Mirrors is behind the test driver “crouching” in front. It’s not where most of the other cars have theirs. Looks like it is immediately on either side of the steering wheel

  3. F1 Dave says:

    Worth noting that Nick Wirth also designed the Acura American Le Mans Series P1 car largely around CFD, only using a wind tunnel a handful of times to verify the CFD data. That car proved highly successful last year winning the championship.

    1. dc says:

      No, what proved successful in winning the championship was the fact that they were only racing against themselves.

      Still, a brilliant car.

      1. F1 Dave says:

        True enough, They were however competitive against the Audi & Peugeot at Sebring & got the outright Pole.

        My point was that using CFD almost exclusively for design & development ended up producing a car that was just as competitive as those developed in a more conventional way via wind tunnels.

        Also that if anyone can produce a good car using CFD exclusively it would be Nick Wirth since he proberly has more experience with the system. If he’s able to do what he did with that Acura & produce a half competitive car i can see more teams going that route in the next couple years.

      2. Med says:

        I think BMW went that route with their Albert machines and didn’t do that great last year, so I’ll reserve judgement just yet

      3. James Allen says:

        They still had a full size wind tunnel – the best in F1 – on the go as well..

  4. Martin P says:

    Why not cut costs even more and buy an etch-a-sketch?

  5. Jaime Cook says:

    Not to put a dampener on their pioneering approach to design but if things don’t add-up aero wise surely they’ll have to revert to a wind-tunnel or more conventional data gatherer to iron things out? This in turn would nullify the money and staff saved in going “data only”?
    I wish them well, all the same…

  6. Nathan Bradley says:

    Great looking car virgin, let’s see if it goes!

    James, thanks for the info on Hamilton driving at Jerez, could you tell me when Alonso will be driving as well please, because it looks to be a whole lot busier today with him at Valencia!

    Thanks

  7. Gary says:

    The established F1 teams all have similar CFD technology and yet still feel the need to spend a great deal of time in the wind tunnels to validate their models. Without such facilities I can’t help but think Virgin Racing are always going to be at a disadvantage and won’t be able to get as close to the optimum aero setup as their rivals.

  8. chris says:

    Great livery and a very pretty car. Virgin racing present themselves as a very highly polished outfit. Very cool website too.

    I like Wirths noises too; he has a big chunk of attitude and just the right amount of arrogance. I wish them all the best.

    1. Pinball says:

      I agree. The livery looks awesome. I like how some of the new teams are coming in and doing things differently. Shaking it up. Formula 1 is meant to be innovative and that is exactly what the new teams are doing with the different approaches they are taking.

  9. Rolando says:

    The virgin car will be a dog for sure, it doesn’t, look at the front wing, no flaps.

    1. Nick says:

      They have said on record that this is just the shakedown spec, word for word Nick Worth said something like “all the little addons and flaps are yet to be put on at the first or second test”

  10. Maurice A says:

    Hi James,

    Love the work your doing and a great site to keep up to date with the formula 1 world.

    With the CFD sounds like a risk and a gamble considering all the other teams have implemented the wind tunnel approach. Is it possible you can tell me if any other motorsport cateogories have used this method and have been successful?

  11. Ginger says:

    The car looks good although quite simple in it’s design. Whether that is good remains to be seen.

    The team have done well in signing Glock and fingers crossed they do well and show the paddock that this is the way to go.

    Ginger.

  12. Laurence H says:

    Very nice looking car.

    Can’t wait for the giggle-factor when it races though…
    ‘That Virgin looks a real handful!’
    ‘One of the Virgin’s is off! I can’t see which Virgin it is… oh, it’s Glock…’
    Childish, I know…

  13. like2cf1 says:

    I don’t know about wind tunnel but I do know computer. Its all about how good the CFD program is. You can simulate many things that wind tunnel cannot for example crosswind, impact etc etc. If this prove to be successful then those guys affected better start diversifying.

  14. rpaco says:

    I am pretty sure that there is more than one suitable F1 CFD software package and probably many thousands of variables which will be adjustable to configure the parametrics in the right way to represent the car aero features over the solid model.
    And yet if it is fully programmable, why did Brawn not run it with a much hotter/thinner air attributes last year? They must know the work loading necessary to heat the tyres sufficiently. If CFD is that good, the tyre heating problems of last year should not have happened. ~This suggests that either the Brawn and McLaren ones were not that good (and/or flexible) or it was not used to produce tyre loadings correctly.

    1. Nick says:

      You have to keep in mind that Worth research is a leader in the field, I would expect their software is pretty much inhouse.

  15. Christopher Snowdon says:

    Interesting, this approach could go either way! But I refuse to believe Mclaren don’t have this tech? In recet years weve seen the biggest leeps by teams utilising more and more tunnel time :(

  16. Andy C says:

    Great colour scheme! Good luck to them.

    The diff between cfd on closed and open wheel is there is loads more disruption if the airflow by open wheels.

    I hope they are successful and produce a solid car. I like the way they have gone about building a solid base (no huge expense on windtunnel). If they need to use one they can always hire one.

  17. Barry says:

    James,
    How do I register on your site, and do you have any photos of the cars running or coming into the pits with the “flo paint” you mentioned them using to check air flow over the various patrs of the car? I would be interestd in seeing them as it would give insite into the aero of the cars.
    Great site.
    Barry

  18. Ahlapski says:

    I think this is the future for F1, whether you like it or not. With computing getting ever more powerful by the day. Using CFD is not going to be at a disadvantage at all. As this and traditional methods are both approximations. Nobody knows until the car hits the track.

    So it is anybody’s guess. As Gary said above wind tunnel is used to validate their data. What they are doing is to skip this part and go straight onto the track for this validation. Of course things could go wrong and probably will. But Wirth is very experienced using this method, so he will know exactly what to do. And they are a new team and they will probably have a bit more time for teething problems than established teams.

    This is a tried and tested method in the states. And Wirth has a right to be arrogant.

    I think McLaren is sandbagging their car, you can tell by LH’s body language. I think McLaren will be very competitive this season. But it is going to be close.

    Ferrari is probably running their car light to get some goo times after an awful season and give their fans something to cheer about. With Alonso testing in Spain too, What do you think, James ??

    1. Simon A says:

      Autosport is saying his fastest lap was at the start of an eight lap stint, so not a low fuel stunt.

      The only thing that is certain is that we’ll find out in the first qualifying session of the season, I can’t wait.

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes but eight laps is a short stint. Remember that you only need 20 kilos of fuel to do an 8 lap stint. If most other people are running around with 40-80 kilos that’s a big difference in lap time – between 6/10ths and 1.8 seconds

      2. James Allen says:

        That is wrong actually. Alonso’s fastest time was on lap 4 of a 12 lap stint

      3. Ahlapski says:

        I agree with you, James. 8 laps or 12 laps is still a short stint; considering you will be doing upward of 50 laps for the whole race.

      4. James Allen says:

        More like 80 laps of this Valencia track

    2. Freespeech says:

      I hope so but I fear they’re not. Button was way off today or is Lewis 0.7 a lap faster in the same car?

    3. Thomas says:

      Also have the feeling McLaren is sandbagging. Their car just looks so .. developed and cool, with some neat tricks and that massive diffuser in the rear.
      However, isn’t that the classic Ferrari/McLaren story? The Ferrari looks quite simple while the McLaren awes us with the intricate detail, and the speed turns out to be roughtly the same?

      1. Paul Kirk says:

        The “intricate detail” you refer to are all external, I asume. Don’t forget there’s lots of intricate stuf under the skin, and I understand Farrari tend to be more complex than some.

    4. Brace says:

      I’m not James, but I’ll tell you what I think.
      I think you are being delusional.
      You are McLaren fan and you are trying to rationalize to your self the fact which you are not yet ready to accept.
      Ferrari is going quite good and McLaren isn’t. It might be that Ferrari isn’t as superior as it seems and McLaren isn’t as bad as it seems but Ferrari is still better than McLaren.

      1. James Allen says:

        Is this addressed to me? What are you on about?

      2. Ahlapski says:

        I haven’t got a clue too…

      3. Brace says:

        No, James, not to you. :)
        It’s directed to Ahlapski who seems to be in denial about Ferrari’s and McLaren’s forms. :)
        He managed to figure out that McLaren is actually in better form than Ferrari, based on Monday and Tuesday times. :)

      4. Jason C says:

        I think it was a reference to Ahlapski’s comment: “I think McLaren is sandbagging their car, you can tell by LH’s body language. I think McLaren will be very competitive this season.”

      5. ahlapski says:

        I know it is too early to say who is faster and who is not. Only time will tell.

        But at least I am willing to stick my head out and say something. Unlike some people only know how to criticise other people’s points.

        Everyone is entitled to their opinions, aren’t they ?

  19. I don’t want to sound negative but there isn’t anything revolutionary looking about the car?

    It’s going to be very interesting to see where they are

  20. Freespeech says:

    Nice colour scheme though I wonder how long Branson will stay interested with it being towards the rear of the pack :?:

    1. rpaco says:

      Well he won’t care as long as it gets on the telly, remember he is only a sponsor for the publicity, also he is not putting money in just “his brand”.

  21. Mike says:

    Prediction:
    With the rather devious relations of the FIA to Manor in the past, I have a feeling the following will happen:

    2011 – To further cut the cost of F1 – Wind tunnels testing will be banned from the end of the year’ as it has been proven by Virgin/ManorF1 that it is not a necessary requirement any more.

    1. Frenchie says:

      I’d subscribe to your cynicism if Max was still president. By the way Todt was addressing WRC issues, he very much looks like his own man.

  22. John MacMicking says:

    I like the car, the livery and the approach. It makes perfect sense for a new team starting from scratch to go CFD. I do hope they are working on a ‘shark fin’ though because that seems to be what the wind tunnel has told the others who have launched to date. Virgin are a week ahead of schedule now and that’s great news too!

  23. Med says:

    Time will tell on their decision; in their favour, nobody’s expecting the new teams to be front runners, so if they’re a couple of seconds off, it won’t raise eyebrows as much as McLaren being off the pace last season.

    The thing is, McLaren were off the pace and they had real world physics to read in the windtunnel; the CFD’s only going to be as good as the people that wrote the software and how detailed they can model every little nuance.

    1. Ahlapski says:

      This is very true…

    2. Pinball says:

      It also comes down to how smart and clever the people operating the CFD programs are. Like any computer based model, sh*t in = sh!*t out, meaning that if the data you input is rubbish, then the results the model gives you will also be rubbish.

      1. rpaco says:

        If CFD fails to produce a winner there is now a new package called LDraw. ;-)

  24. Hayden L. says:

    It’s a good sign that at least one new team’s showing some sense of readyness…

    The car looks great in terms of hte livery… but i’m really surprsied that the front wing looked very basic… and the same can be said to the rear diffuser as the pictures seem to imply a single deck as opposed to a double deck…

    hopefully when they do their shakedown, they’d bring an update package similar to the way renault launched their R30…

  25. Philip W says:

    the front wing looks incredibly simple… surely it wont look like that when they start testing

    1. Pete says:

      Sometimes simple is good in engineering – can the same be said for aerodynamics?

      1. Philip W says:

        i dont know tbh

        i’ve just watched an interview on the beeb and they have said this is only a basic version of there car.

        its very much like R30, that had the old wing on it from last year until it rolled onto the track

      2. Jost says:

        Well in some cases yes, in some cases no.
        But the flow around the front of a F1 car is anything but simple, especially the interaction of wing and tyres. So you definitly have to come up with some tricks to avoid loosing much needed downforce or creating drag.
        But honestly I have yet to look closely at the wing and even if I have, my expertise of front wings is far from sufficient to pass judgement on one just by looking at it.

        Jost

    2. Nick Somebody says:

      Yep. I totally agree. I think its a place holder. They either didn’t want to show the front wing or it isn’t ready yet. Also what is interesting is that all but one of the pictures released are a 3D rendering of a model. One of the 3D renderings shows the diffuser, and that also is not a finished diffuser. There is virtually nothing to it.

      All the teams would have CFD software which they are using to design their cars. The advantage they would have also is that they have had years to calibrate it so that it gives the same results as the wind tunnel and the car in the real world. I assume that many teams cocked it up last year because the rules changed so radically that it was harder to get the CFD to produce the real world numbers. …That’s just a guess though.

      …Anyway it will be interesting to see how Virgin go. I hope they do well. It’s a nice colour scheme.

      1. Philip W says:

        Wirth must have an idea of what he is doing tho seeing that he has design a winning ALM car just using CFD.

        I just hope it pays off for Virgin

  26. monktonnik says:

    I genuinely hope this works out. We need this kind of innovative approach, and it is exactly what the new teams should be about.

    If the car isn’t perfect that doesn’t mean that CFD is worse than a wind tunnel, or the Wirth made the wrong decision.

    How many times have we heard engineers say that the on track data doesn’t match the wind tunnel figures? I have never heard anyone say that the CFD is wrong!

    1. Ahlapski says:

      If there no-one is willing to experiment, nothing will advance. Isn’t this is what F1 is all about…. Full mark to Wirth.

  27. Chris Hill says:

    I like the livery also like the fact that the front end bucks the trend for the ultra high nose with the nose mopunting points cut back under the nose (the most extreme example being the sauber). And if looks are anything to go by this will be a flying machine ( how sculpted and thin is that nose cone!!!! ). But for some reason (and I hope I am wrong) I think it will be a slow car. Remember Nick Wirth designed (and owned/ran) the Simtek team and lets not forget it was a really pretty car but was as slow as a dog with two broken back legs.

  28. Road of Bones says:

    A great-looking car. I suspect that the one that goes to Jerez will have a more developed front-wing though – no sense allowing your rivals to steal a march on you by showing all your cards at once, plus the simpler front wing shows off the launch livery & sponsors rather more elegantly than the (likely) race one will.

    Hoping for a form-book upset from these guys!

  29. F1 Kitteh says:

    Looks simple and tidy but does’t look as tightly packaged as the others around the rear? Lets hope it goes well. Color scheme reminds me of IRL though, not sure why, would’ve preferred all black, but looks good nonetheless and good to see they have plenty of sponsors and new ones too.

  30. Mark says:

    Times move on I know, but I can’t help remembering that the last F1 car to be designed entirely without a wind tunnel was the Lola….

  31. Vic says:

    I said this in another thread, the Computer Software is only as good as the people who wrote it, every piece of software is usually riddled with many bugs which are hard to iron out. In theory if you could make a piece of software that was really really good then you could in theory reduce your workload in the wind tunnel

  32. Francisco says:

    If the slower Cosworth car this season kiss good-bye to exclusively CFD design.

    My hat off for the team, very brave move to try a new approach to save costs.
    Best of luck

  33. las amazonas folladoras says:

    i doubt the car will be a ferrari beater, but it is something new to check out. If it’s slow, we can still compare the drivers.

  34. I suspect lewis is 0.7 a lap faster than button. He has to be surely. If not I will eat my hat

    1. Nick Somebody says:

      Too early to say. It’s likely Lewis is faster, but not by that amount. Remember that Jenson is new to the team, and also that Lewis has had a hand in designing the car to his liking.

  35. Jost says:

    I have to admit I’m a little bit surprise about the amount of jobs they supposedly have saved. Sure, to operate a windtunnel 24/7 you need your windtunnel-technicians, model-makers and a bunch of aerodynamicists that interpret the data, but if you were to do all that testing in silico only, you’d need additional well-trained cfd-engineers, lots of computers and people who service them too. Ok setting up tests takes more time, but 60 – 100 jobs still seems a little bit exaggerated.

    It especially comes as a surprise to me, because lately you hear a lot of the major players in the aerodynamics world admitting that cfd-only approaches won’t do the trick – at least not for another 25 years. That is because with cfd you need to have a pretty good idea what is going on in the region you’re moddeling, what effects you have to account for, what meshes are applicable, what solver you need to choose, what turbulence-model is the right one and all the other thousands of parameters that there are.
    And if you go into aeroelastics, i.e. the deformation of your wings, rotating meshes (your tires) or even thermal models (cooling of brakes, tires and exhaust), it gets really nasty. If I as an aerodynamicist had the opportunity to design a f1 car, I’d feel a lot more comfortable having confirmed my assumptions instead of flying blind all the way, just to realize on first day of testing that I got it all wrong.
    And when you’re finally testing and it becomes apparent that your aerodynamic loads aren’t sufficient, with cfd you have to ask yourself what effects you haven’t accounted for, what parameters were set wrong and there are a lot of possibilities. Well with windtunnel-testing it is basicly the same, except the list is a lot (!) shorter, because you already know your basic concept works. You only have to find the difference between race-track and laboratory.

    And while I’m at it, a few words about cfd software. True, it is important to have a good cfd tool and a lot of bright minds around the globe are working on incorporating new features into these codes. But it is even more essential that the user knows what he is doing (remember all the parameter I’ve written about above). A lot of commercial tool can basicly do the same things, whether you choose TAU (our inhouse code :), OpenFOAM (which in the future Volkswagen employees will be forced to use), cd-adapco’s Star-CCM+ (if I recall correctly, Toyota F1 used to work with that one) or one of the many other advanced codes doesn’t make much of a difference – as long as you don’t choose black box codes like EXA’s PowerFlow, because there is no way to know what sort of magic this tool does on the inside.

    I assume this decision to use cfd-only derives from a lack of funds and the PR deivision of the Virgin Team is just trying to sell it as innovative thinking.
    Anyway I wish this team all the best and truely hope they succeed with their approach.

    Jost
    P.S.: I hope my comment doesn’t make for a too terrible read, since I don’t use my english that often.

    1. Brace says:

      It makes for a great reading. Thanks! :)

    2. Ahlapski says:

      Thx for the insight, Jost …

    3. Paul Kirk says:

      Excelent points you make, J, but we also have to credit Worth with hands-on experience with motor sport of probably more than three decades, so that combined with his CFD stuf could turn out quite good. I’m not sure how successful CFD would be if used by a non-experienced racing car designer, i.e. relying soley on computors without human input and experience.
      Anyway I wish Virgin luck and some success, although I am getting tired of seeing Branson apearing in all the pics!
      PK.

      1. Jost says:

        Yes it could turn out quite good, but that is always the case, whether the cfd-tool actually did what it was supposed to, an engineer had a brilliant idea or it was just plain luck. My point is that it is likely they have a smaller chance of that than the top teams.
        If you have a cfd-only design process and take your car to the track and find that the aerodynamic loads are in the same area as predicted by your simulation – which is all you can hope for (with wind-tunnel testing it is essentially the same) – you still don’t know if your cfd-simulation works properly. See, aerodynamic loads are the Integral of the pressure over all of your cars surface (basicly the same as a sum of the pressure but with infitely small points you sum up). So you could have many small errors in your simulation that cancel out each other once you ask your tool for the total force and point of origin – which isn’t as odd and rare as you might think it is. Well that will probably work just ok, if next time you’re building a similar car with similar devices utilising similar aerodynamic effects. But F1 is all about innovation and if you are trying out something new, you might find that you’ve always had your cfd-simulation a little bit wrong – and without wind-tunnel testing you probably have no idea where to look for your mistakes.
        To avoid that from happening you need to be able to confirm your assumptions about what is going on flow-wise around your car.

        I have read somewhere they are using oil bases paints to make the streamlines visible on the track (I don’t know the english term for that, in german it is called ‘Anstrichbilder’, but neither english nor german wikipedia seems to have an article about it). That should give you a general idea of what is going on, while you shouldn’t be able to see much of the details, because when your not only driving in a straight line you get all the effects of accelerating, decelerating, turning and so on into your flow pattern. Anyway, it would be great, if someone had a link to some highres pictures of those dried out paints because you should see a great deal about vortices and flow seperation.

        I wonder if they have any other means of on-track-testing – maybe old school pressure holes, though I don’t know if they are even permitted by the rules?
        James, if you are at Jerez, could you look out for such measurement techniques?

        Jost
        P.S.: I have to admit I’m maybe a little bit biased towards wind-tunnel-testing :)

    4. Med says:

      Cheers for that – you put what I was thinking into a much better post

    5. Kakashi says:

      Jost… thanks for the explanation…
      great insight into some of the key concepts…
      hope to read more comments from u in future

    6. Legend2 says:

      Thanks Jost.

  36. Betbotpro says:

    With cfd you can do many many iterations of say a front wing design or concept and know the downforce it produces. If wirth gets it right he could be onto a winner in a few years once devleoped correclty.

    Wind tunnels also have there faults remember, so each technlogy is only an estimate of what happens at speed on track.

    After many iterations, even of not accurate, wirth knows one front wing design is better than another. In the windtunnel how many fron wings do you make to do the same thing?

    Of course most tops teams will likely use cfd initially then confirm in the wind tunnel but there cfd might not be as advanced.

    Wirth is so confident about the cfd they arent confirming in the wind tunnel, only on track so it should be fun, especially for all those engineers watching!

    1. Jost says:

      Well of course, with a parametric cad model of a front wing that is coupled to your cfd solver, you can iterate your parameters to find a somewhat optimal solution and all the major teams do that right now.
      I doubt that their CFD-System would be superior to those used by any of the top teams, because I can’t imagine that there is a lot of development going into these codes from the side of the teams. That sort of work is typically done by CFD-Suppliers (e.g. cd-adapco, EXA etc.), research-centers (e.g. the German Aerospace Center DLR, NASA, JAXA etc.) or Universities.
      So it boils down to the ingenuity and abilities of your engineers and the computing power you have at hand – in the end both mainly a question of how much money you want to throw at it.
      And it would surprise me, if Wirth had more Computing Power than lets say BMW had with Albert2 – and we’ve all witnessed how much it helped them.

      And yes, windtunnel-testing is an approximation of the reality as well, but it is definitly much more close, since you don’t have to worry about getting your physics right – it’s much more about finding the right conditions matching those on the track. With CFD you have to deal with both issues. For all aerodynamicists: Granted, with the 60% models used, you will never reach real track Reynolds-numbers (or has anyone heard of cyro-windtunnels used in F1?), but you’re still a lot closer than with most cfd-applications.

      But another point I imagine using a CFD-only approach is problematic is the following. If you have developed your car and go testing and your aerodynamics don’t work out as you planned them, you almost definitly need to visit a wind-tunnel to investigate what exactly went wrong, because with a cfd-simulation it could have any number of reasons. So if you don’t have the ability to do so, you’re learning curve should be pretty shallow.

      Jost

  37. keatsmeister says:

    Greetings one and all!

    First, that is one sleek looking Virgin ;) As the current generation of cars goes, the Virgin is one of the more aesthetically pleasing. Just imagine the jokes we would have had if Virgin had a car in the ‘flaps everywhere’ era!

    Second, even if this year’s Virgin turns out to be a dog, the big issue around the CFD debate is going to be the relative gains or losses in pace as the car is developed througout the course of the season. The other teams will have to reduce their budgets eventually, and if the Virgin girls and boys can show that they can develop the car through the season, CFD will become a much more attractive proposition. Even if budgets aren’t reduced, imagine what a difference that money could make if used for driver development programmes, or innovative new technology. I’ll be backing the Virgin boys this year!

  38. Jason C says:

    Front wing’s looking a bit… basic, isn’t it? Somewhere there’s a lego set with a few bits missing…

  39. Rudy Pyatt says:

    A nice looking car. Was it Tony Southgate or Len Terry who said that a car shouldn’t be ugly to be fast, or something that effect? Kudos to Wirth.

    As far as CFD-only goes, does it really matter if it works as well as the conventional or not? Every possible approach to car design, from the crudest six guys and chalk-marks-on-the-floor to the most sophisticated and expensive round the clock windtunnel (with a small army of techs) and CFD route can, and has, produced bad cars. Didn’t McLaren have to build an entirely different car a few years ago, because the original one was so bad? And everybody remembers how bad the 2008 Honda was.

    Despite the modern tools and the obscene amount of resources used, these were still dog cars. And that’s no different from the mistakes made in the days of eye, intuition and chalk marks on the floor and pencils on the drafting table.

    Whether the all CFD approach works or not, it won’t be any worse than what we’ve seen before.

  40. JoeAngersIII says:

    Congrats to Virgin for being the first of the newbies to get their car out there. Let’s not forget though that they are not the only ones relying solely on CFD for the design of their car, as USF1 is doing the same thing, though they have the “luxury” of having the full-scale Windshear tunnel as a back up.

    If USF1 does make the grid, it will be interesting to see how both of the CFD teams stack up against each other and against the rest of the pack.

    Joe A.

    1. James Allen says:

      My understanding is that they have been using Windshear all along..I’ll check

  41. F1ART says:

    It’s not the computer or the wind tunnel but what you feed it with that matters?

  42. Stu says:

    It’s a nice looking car that, to me, seems like it’s come straight out of Indycars!

  43. Dale Nixon says:

    can the Apple iPad Design Your Own F1 car app be far behind?

  44. Henry says:

    Just wondering if any pictures of the rear diffuser has been seen, as far as I can tell virgin have kept the back end rather a secret so far, anyone fancy a guess as to something exciting akin to last years debate? It was after all one of the defining factors in the early pace of last years cars. just an idea…

  45. Phil I says:

    Can anyone tell me the difference between a “shakedown” test and a normal test. I presume its the first run of the car, but is this not included in the testing allowance restrictions?

  46. Glen says:

    Being from Yorkshire it is nice seeing the White Rose painted on the front wing. It would be great if the team gave Justin Wilson a go in the car, especially as the cars are longer now.

  47. Steve McGill says:

    I must admit this cars simplicity makes it look stunning. Simple designs have always been my favourite, don’t they always seem to go well? I hope this does. Good luck Richard, Nick & Timo

  48. Sebee says:

    Am I the only on that thinks Sir Richard will build extras and offer F1 the wealthy an F1 experience?

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