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Video: Behind the scenes at Virgin Racing – Nick Wirth interview
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Video: Behind the scenes at Virgin Racing – Nick Wirth interview
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Sep 2010   |  9:16 am GMT  |  82 comments

Last week I went down to visit Virgin Racing Technical Director Nick Wirth at his Wirth Research headquarters in Oxfordshire, which this year designed and developed the first digital F1 car, entirely conceived using CFD with no wind tunnel.

It’s been a rollercoaster ride for Virgin, which started the season with chronic unreliability and a fuel tank which wasn’t big enough. Solving the reliability issues delayed performance upgrades until Silverstone and here Wirth admits that there was some nervousness within the team around Valencia. But recently they have added performance to the car, Wirth says that his group has added as much as 17-20% more downforce and as Lotus has stopped developing this year’s car to focus on next year’s, Virgin are moving ahead.

Wirth reckons that one of the advantages of using the CFD approach is that they are able to develop both this year’s car and next year’s at the same time and believes that the upgrades for the next race in Singapore will show the extent to which they are closing the gap on Toro Rosso and the slowest of the established teams. Next year the target is to be amongst them.

Nick is filmed in front of one his many rock and roll photos, which adorn every wall of the facility.

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82 Comments
  1. F1Novice says:

    I think Virgin would benefit by getting the the gearbox/drivetrain/hydraulics from Williams to match with the Cosworth engine for next year if williams are willing to sell it to them “al la” the Force India / McLaren arrangement and now the Lotus / Renault agreement for 2011 – it will help with their reliability and give them at least a fighting of hanging onto the coat tails of Lotus as they reap the inevitable benefits of their link-up with Renault.

    1. F1Novice says:

      P.S. good article – I like Nick Wirth – Do I detect a few extra grey hairs after his first year in F1 :)

    2. TheGreatCornholio says:

      James, the above idea would be great for them but am i correct in believing that Sir Frank has very definite ideas about that what being an F1 constructor should mean? By that i mean that he believes that teams should develop and engineer their own parts and tech.

    3. Banjo says:

      I agree, and while Sir Frank may not be entirely happy with the idea of giving teams an easy ride (as mentioned by TheGreatCornholio) surely it would be more beneficial for F1 as a whole if Virgin or Hispania are given a fighting chance while they cut their teeth in F1. A limited offer, so teams coming into F1 are given the full technical support of a more senior team so they don’t have to spend a year like this ironing out reliability problems. Then, after a few years, when the technical side of the team is fully in place they have to go solo?

    4. Richard Bell says:

      Linking up to a more established team is a good idea. Are Virgin using KERS next year, if so, will it be their own? I’ll be surprised if they have the funds or resources to do it. Same goes for Hispania.

      1. Tim Horton says:

        Ill be surprised if Hispania make it to next year.

      2. Andy W says:

        Or if they don’t get bought out by Vilneurve and his group.

  2. Ben G says:

    Good vid. Look forward to seeing what they can do next year.

    Any word on their driver line up?

  3. giorgio says:

    I appreciate highly Nick and Virgin team, it’s great job what they do and it’s future of technology at all(virtual operation). That wasn’t possible even few years ago and they used today’s opportunity to do it now, I believe after increasing computing capacity in few years CFD will be comparable with WT, if not exceed. It doesn’t matter what the results they achieve today in real racing, it’s much important to find ways and direction to develop and fine tune CDF based on real data feedback. This will be returned a hundredfold in close future. And it’s great they endeavour in the top technology of F1.

    1. Moose says:

      actually CFD has been used to develop F1 cars for years. have you ever heard of Albert 1, Albert 2 or Albert 3? its the supercomputers used by BMW to develop their F1 cars along with Wind Tunnel. These supercomputers are the most powerful computer on the planet.why did they use Wind tunnel even though they have super powerful computers? they need to ‘fine tune’ their design in Wind Tunnel as CFD cant precisely predict how the wings will deflect as it depends on how they constructed the wings (composite orientation etc). they can mingle around midfield but its hard to see them wins WCC.

  4. George says:

    Good on em’ for stepping into the ring, not for the faint hearted or uncertain.
    Good luck for 2011!

  5. Azlas says:

    “Wirth reckons that one of the advantages of using the CFD approach is that they are able to develop both this year’s car and next year’s at the same time”

    Surely other teams can do this as well? Oh but wait they can also use a windtunnel too.

    I’m sorry but I find Virgin’s all CFD approach admirable but ultimately doomed to failure (in terms of catching up to mid pack teams).

    Computer model data is no substitue for real world data – trust me James, as an engineer working in fluid dynamics if I (and fellow researchers) fully understood turbulence, eddie dissipation etc we’d be billionaires by now.

    Even the US military with their enormous budget, staff and expertise put any new aircraft through 100s of hours of real life testing to verify, modify and adjust.

    Virgin have proved you can produce an f1 car with just CFD, but I wont be supirsed if they cannot produce a winning car with just CFD.

    Btw James, you against the blue background was quite scary…

    1. malcolm.strachan says:

      While my fluid dynamics understanding may not rival yours, I think you are being a little short-sighted with the advantages of CFD. Of course, with CFD, you get to see the entire flow-field in and around the car, whereas with wind-tunnels you really only get force and pressure numbers (and a bit of visualization if you use flow-vis paint).

      Realistically, the wind-tunnel would mostly just be used to validate the CFD numbers… and if your CFD is close enough in each validation, or you figure out a reasonably accurate and repeatable adjustment-factor for important parameters, then wind-tunnel validations becomes unnecessary.

      Personally, I think Virgin is perhaps jumping into full-CFD quite soon. They may yield a small benefit from some wind-tunnel testing, but he even said that the CFD numbers matched up to the actual real-world numbers from practice at Silverstone.

      When you say the US Military does 100s of hours of real-life testing, is that in a wind-tunnel, or actually in the air? Wind-tunnel data is not real-life data. Of course, Virgin would likely want to skip the wind-tunnel and opt for 100s of hours of on-track testing time, if given the choice.

      1. Trent says:

        It is good to have risk-takers though. They’re a new team, and not expecting miracles. Looking forward, if other teams start to move this way, they may have such significnant learnings from their experiences that it may have proved to be a great long-term investment.

      2. Azlas says:

        I ment both types of testing – obviously the wind tunnel is less valuable than real-world testing but its still a valuable tool.

        You’ve just given me an idea for a question for James (or anyone who knows the regs really well) – there have been some really advanced wind tunnel designs recently allowing full scale moddeling of cars in cross winds, different pitch as well as turn in and with rotating wheels – do the regs allow these or only ‘straight-on’ windtunnel testing?

      3. James Allen says:

        No – full scale modelling isn’t allowed in tunnels

      4. Gary Williams says:

        The big teams already do more CFD than Virgin Racing, so where precisely is their competitive advantage? The big teams still see a tangible, engineering benefit from doing wind tunnel testing in addition to the CFD.

        They may be getting more band for their buck in terms of aero performance vs spend, but they are still behind the curve regards their car’s aero performance compared to the top teams.

  6. Andy W says:

    Interesting video and I hope Virgin can make it stick. Its great to see how well all 3 new teams have done given the start that they were given this season.

    I really do think that the FIA should have done much to help these teams out in terms of giving them extra track time and testing as the season has gone on to allow them to become competitive with the more established teams, all 3 teams have understandably struggled and its been hugely frustrating to hear some of the negative comments that have come from the high and mighty in the sport.

  7. Azlas says:

    To further my point – yes Virgin can keep iterating on their CFD to match it closer and closer to real world data – but it would only work for that particular car/design.

    In the end, they are not making inroads into our understanding of fluid dynamics, but rather making inroads into understanding their own design. Their is a clear difference between the two.

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      Isn’t it their own design that has the most interest for them with a larger understanding of fluid dynamics as a secondary concern? Why would you begrudge them that position?

      1. Azlas says:

        You are correct yes – perhapes I was coming form the ‘secondary concern’ side too strongly. But my point remains that if there is a big enough rule change (like what we had in 09) then certain aspects of their CFD will no longer apply (or it won’t nearly be as accurate) since the fundemental car design would change.

        At which point why not use all the tools availabe (such as windtunnels – which are also an improving and evolving technology but everyone [general public - not anyone in particular] seems to think they’ve stopped improving) to make life easier for yourself?

        To give an example, I can create bespoke code to give really accurate numbers on say a surface of a cylinder – but as soon as I put a differnt shaped object in I get junk results. Obviously in f1 is a hundredfold more complicated and you have lots of intricate interactions between aerodynamic parts that I’m sure even the designers don’t fully understand how they work (I know in my work I’ve come accross things that make me go “I have no idea whats going on, or why but it works to so i’m happy!”)

        So to summerise my horribly convoulted argument (sorry about this my mind often wonders)- yes cfd good for their design now, but when new regs come in its back to square one (almost). If anyone had a full understanding of the physics behind fluid dynamics you’d see cars like the current mclaren, ferrair and Redbull at the start of the 10 season. So, with that in mind, you might as well make life easier and use all the tools available.

        Still great effort from Virgin so far. Will be interested to see how they fair in 2011

    2. malcolm.strachan says:

      On what basis do you believe that they can only improve their CFD analysis toward their specific F1 car, and not toward the use of CFD in general? (I am actually curious, not trying to incite an argument)

      Beyond that, don’t you think they would be working to try to link the common trends between the Acura/HPD prototype, the 2010 Virgin and the new 2011 car? Surely it would be in Wirth Research’s best interest to further CFD technology in general, rather than merely develop a CFD package for a specific F1 design.

      1. Azlas says:

        If you see my reply to the comment above yours – its bascially because there are too many aerodynamic phenomona that we don’t fully understand.

        To get around this in Civil Engineering say, we just use relatively large safety factors since we can’t really test a building before its built (too expensive) – and also because too many lives are at stake and its too expensive to fix once its been built.

        For automotive engineering we can run tests and get more accurate numbers by matching the code to the real world data. The problem is that it is only really ‘smoothing out the creases’ in the code for that particular design. If you drastically change the design you would have to do that again because fundemental assumptions still have to made.

        What Virigin would really be benefitting from with this exercise, is having a workforce with very strong expertise and experiance with CFD. So yes any new projects would benefit from that. But they would never (in my view) match a team using all the tools available (wind tunnels etc) including a strong cfd base.

      2. Zobra Wambleska says:

        I would think that Virgin, or anyone else, could build some pretty impressive base line figures for their specific application over time (ie: an F1 car is an F1 car) Yes, the regulations will change, but the changes should still leave a lot of the base figures in place, so it would be helpful to use those to compare the new numbers and performance figures. I do agree that the wind tunnel(s) is a great tool and teams are able to extract some great figures from them, however, the costs are rather high in terms of money and time. As Nick states, Virgin is able to run concurrent programs on CFD, which is apparently difficult or impossible with just the wind tunnel. I agree with you, that if a team has the resources then using all the tools available would be the ideal way to go, but for a start-up team with limited funds then perhaps then the CFD tool alone makes more sense.

  8. Kieran says:

    Big fan of the Virgin team, especially since they grew out of Manor Racing, my local racing team from Sheffield.

    James, how much are Wirth research involved, and how much is the Manor team involved? Is it a blending of the two operations, or is it more Manor do the racing and the mechanical side, while Wirth research focus on the R&D?

    Finally – hows the budget for next year looking?

    Kieran

  9. Christopher Snowdon says:

    James surely the other teams use this technology to, but the have the added bonus of backing up their ideas with a wind tunnel.

  10. Eamonn Mc Cauley says:

    Kimi and Sutil are fighting to be Kubica’s team mate, next year. Kimi should get it. Robert knows Kimi won’t be as quick out of the blocks.

    1. Jim says:

      Unless Genii get some funding, or Renault buy back the team, they cannot afford Kimi. The only reason they released that info is to make them seem like a high profile team, and to attract sponsors. Similarly, Sutil will expect a decent salary. Petrov brings his own, not insignificant, backing and opens markets in Russia

      But i fail to see what this has to do with Virgin Racing

      1. Eamonn Mc Cauley says:

        Remember this when Kimi get’s the seat next year. The Sutil story was let out to drive down Kimi’s asking price. It’s how it works.

        PS

        Kimi will not be looking for the money he use to get. About half that.

      2. Jim says:

        I will add to my list of reasons why i don’t think he will go:

        They promised Kubica that they would “build a team around him” when he signed his contract – surely he would have something to say.

        Lada is one of their main sponsors, would not likely accept Petrov being got rid of. With sponsorship looking in short supply these days, i doubt Renault are going to be super keen to get rid of their major sponsor.

        Renault finances are not looking great: they asked for an advance payment a couple of months ago (“cashflow problem”), and the boss of Genii admitted F1 is more costly than he thought, and hinted he might be selling up.

        Even Kimi on half his wages is still over £10m. Petrov brings money into the team with sponsorship.

        Finally Kimi doesnt offer anything other than speed and even that was waning towards the end of 2009. Petrov is on a learning curve, and in my mind, doing a pretty good job of it. Petrov can also be used for media and publicity events that Kimi was never interested in

        Trust me, I would love to see Kimi back. Fast driver and interesting personality. But he won’t be going to Renault in 2011.

        However, you never answered, what does this have to do with Virgin Racing?

      3. Jim says:

        My prediction is Kimi to Mercedes after Michael Schumacher quits/gets booted out. Too pricey for Renault, even at a meagre half of his wages, he’d probably still cost the team in the region of £10-15 million, rather than Petrov who brings in his own sponsorship money. I don’t think Kubica would be too happy after Renault promised to build a team around him, to then go and sign a former world champion.

        Sutil to Renault is a possibility, quick but still up and coming driver and might take a reduced wage to get a better car. However i still reckon Petrov is favourite to stay – has pulled his socks up since they asked him to up his game, and is financially a better option

        In my humble opinion, and it is no more than that, i think Renault like being able to associate themselves with big names like Kimi, for reputational purposes, but in reality signing him is not really an option.

    2. F1Novice says:

      Massa should upsticks and go to Renault

      1. Xman says:

        I don’t think he’ll be number one there either as Kubica will make sure of that!

  11. Jon Wilde says:

    Nice features on Lotus and Virgin this week James, can we expect something on HRT soon?

  12. xman says:

    How good would the racing become if the FIA banned wind tunnel testing!! thats what i want to see in the future.

    1. Banjo says:

      It certainly would cut costs dramatically, but would the teams let them ? Something that major would have to be agreed under the concord agreement surely, and i can’t see that happening any time soon.

      1. Xman says:

        Very true, your points are valid. But let’s just think about the result a wind tunnel testing ban would have. Woowww

        personaly I feel that in recent years, we have seen exciting seasons because teams are forced to develop their car without getting the chance to test. Now if they couldn’t test the aero parts in the wind tunnel either, gee it could be anyones guess. And let’s not talk about the reduction in overall downforce which will allow for more overtaking. Let’s do it hahaha

  13. tank says:

    keen to see their development into next year. They’re not far behind Lotus at all. Lotus has sold itself well so far though.

    Any chance of getting video of the simulation (CFD) work going? I’d love to get some insight on how they’re going about it.

  14. Jim says:

    Do you think they would be any faster with a better driver line up? I know Lotus went with two quick, experienced drivers, whereas Virgin went with Glock, who was not outstanding at Toyota, and an untested rookie in di Grassi. Was that a mistake that might cost them this year against the Lotus team?

    Have been impressed by CFD though – i thought it was bound to failure, but I’m glad they are beginning to prove me wrong. Its nice to see new, effective and cost saving concepts being taken to f1. Virgin have, in this respect, shown what new teams can bring to the party: a breath of fresh air and ideas in the new f1 environment. Good on them for sticking with it.

  15. The newly established teams should have been allowed this year further testing opportunities to cement them into Formula 1. I don’t think this would have given them much of an advantage, it’s more to help them stay within F1.

    I was really impressed with Nick Wirth in that video, seems a really nice guys and realistic. Hope they do well!

    1. Shane says:

      I agree 100%, it is a shame to see them exert such an enormous effort only to find that some o-ring on a hydraulic line wasn’t up to snuff. Maybe they should be given an opportunity to run a couple of long, mechanical shakedown tests. Let them lap the same circuit for a couple of race distances, but restrict them to a homologated wing and rear-diffuser setup? Don’t let them evaluate aero, just the mechanical bits.

      Actually, I say let the bottom 30% of the season’s finishers have this extra mechanical testing. Nobody likes to see a team not finish a Grands Prix, they should be allowed a bit more testing.

  16. Mole says:

    Nick Wirth really does seem like a good guy, and a good spokesperson for the team! Unlike Norbert Haug or Pat Fry, who seem to have a lot of weight on their shoulders.

  17. Ben says:

    [quote]Wirth reckons that one of the advantages of using the CFD approach is that they are able to develop both this year’s car and next year’s at the same time[/quote]

    Exactly how does that work? No matter what your resources are, if you are deviding them in two it always means you have less resources than when focussing on just one. Really deviding computer time between two designs boils down to exactly the same thing as deviding windtunnel time between two designs.

    1. Steven says:

      Yeah, but 2 computers(not the type you and I use) are a lot cheaper than 2 windtunnels. A lot of teams cant afford 1 wind tunnel, let alone 2. This is what I think he means.

  18. Robert McKay says:

    There’s probably a trade-off involved with this approach. Ultimately I suspect that if you want to play with Red Bull/Ferrari/Mclaren you’re going to need to have both CFD simulation and some wind tunnel testing, if for nothing else other than the fact that the last little bit of performance is always the hardest and most expensive to find.

    However the question is how competitive you can effectively be with just the CFD, especially if you are saving the windtunnel money and putting it into other areas of development of the car.

    I don’t think there’s any reason why that approach won’t be enough to get to solid midfield.

    Ultimately I want it to work because (a) it’s different and (b) it’ll open the route for more new teams if they can do it all by computer and be at least in the pack.

  19. colm says:

    The problem with designing anything using solely computers is that the product can only be as good as the data that is inputted to get that product. For instance computers can still only predict the weather, beyond 48 hours, with a 40-60% reliability, using historical data from previous years. The same applies to designing an F1 car and Virgin doesn’t have such historical data to use as it is a new team.

    1. Rich C says:

      There was a study in the UK a couple of years ago which showed that if you simpley predicted that tomorrow’s weather would be the same as today’s you’d be right 70% of the time. A far, *far better result than the weather ‘scientists’ can achieve!

  20. Mark Crooks says:

    I just hope Richard Branson sticks around long enough to give Nick a fighting chance to prove the doubters wrong (of which there are many).

    1. F1Novice says:

      That is EAXACTLY why Branson probably will stick around…. he loves to be able to raise his middle finger to the nay sayers and doubters when he comes good. He rarely fails. :)

      1. Tim Horton says:

        Dickie also knowns when to cut his loses.

  21. Dave P says:

    Hmmm.. I think he is missing the point. CFD by itself great.. gets you within 90% of a top F1 Car… but by itself it will not get you equal or past. As any team will tell you that last bit means you need every resource. Just look how hard it is for Ferrari and McLaren to catch up to Red Bull.

    Its all very well him saying he is catching the back end up…. no problem he can do that I don’t doubt… but to be a top team… nope it isn’t going to happen with just CFD.

    If as he alluded to a budget cap was in place.. well maybe there might be a different story…

    1. Andy C says:

      I guess save that they are aiming to get into the midfield in the short to medium term.

      I hope cfd can get them there, then with increased budget maybe they can use windtunnel also.

      Best of luck to them. To me getting a solid car on the grid with no in season testing is a major achievement for all the teams. I hope to see them all progress next season.

    2. Mark Crooks says:

      You are assuming that Virgin Racing can’t get new parts from design onto the car quicker than the other teams.

      If they can do that (including ensuring the speed of the manufacturing process of components are at least equal to the top teams) and at an overall lower cost then the concept should work.

      1. Mark Crooks says:

        I’d just like to add that the biggest obsticle I see for Nick is the lack of in-season testing (real world data to compare against his CFD data).

        If they manage to get to a point where they can bring new parts to the car at just about every race weekend but something doesn’t quite work as expected then they will always be on the back foot compared to the other teams.

      2. Dave P says:

        Nope that’s not what i am assuming… The point is ALL teams are using CFD and have been for a long time… this is not a new concept by Nick and all the talk is as if it is. If everyone has it, then to get the advantage you need even more tools to refine the art of which a wind tunnel is another piece, Nicks play is that they are Just using CFD, and this is the problem. The more tools an engineer has to verify the CFD etc the more accurate the overall picture. as I said if there was a budget cap then they would be in a great position… but there isn’t… and in that area most likely will not be

  22. m00bie says:

    your assuming that he is only testing the current design on his cfd program to ensure it matches the real world! what if he is testing every car he has ever designed against real world data to calibrate his software?

    1. Mike says:

      The problem with CFD and similarly FE or FD analysis in other fields is exactly this, which curve fitting parameters are used to calibrate against field data? As someone above noted the quality of the output in computer analysis can only ever be as good as the inputs used and also what is often forgotten who is selecting these inputs. The complexity of interaction effects between various aerodynamic components means that only an extremely similar scenario could be realistically interpreted to the level of detail required. This might stretch to next years car where there is a large number of similarities but using data from cars which do not have the same interaction characteristics would be much less useless.

      The use of physical modelling techniques continue in the field of fluid dynamics and other areas of engineering as they continue to be able to provide data and mechanisms to which computer models can be fitted to and used for parametric studies. Also the techniques for capturing data from experiments continue to develop.

  23. For Sure says:

    Hi James,

    Off topic, I was wandering when do you and F1 drivers arrive to Singapore Heath-row Airport, if you don’t mind. I would really appreciate if you could email me or reply here my little nephew wants to meet Schumacher and he doesn’t have much time.

    Thanks a lot.

  24. ManxF1 says:

    Top block with a good attitute – best of luck to him and the team!

  25. vannman says:

    Almost choked on my cider when Nick used the words competitive racing car and virgin in the same sentence..

    1. F1Novice says:

      Compared with how back of the grid team used to be a couple of decades back the new teams are pretty competitive. :)

      1. vannman says:

        Im talking about the 2010 season, and this season, virgin have certainly not developed a competitive racing car. Not quite sure why he would say that.

  26. Chris Severin says:

    What’s all this about leggard getting the dump? Comeon James get on the blower to the beeb and make our f1 weekends better than they even used to be with u and Martin. The bbcs money and u back on the mike – what we all want! Oh, and maybe u could put in a wee word to ditch Eddie I’m a prat Jordan at the same time

    1. Nando says:

      Personally would like to see the BBC rotate commentators and pundits, I’m sure even commentators tire over a 20 race season.
      Eddie Jordan can be a bit oot but he asks alot of relevant questions. Eddie won’t just stand there and listen to endless drivel that avoids the question.

  27. Guilherme says:

    Hello James,

    A quick question: how much of old Simtek Grand Prix is in Virgin GP?

    Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      Not much. Wirth obviously went into other areas after Simtek and then came back to F1. It’s not a race team, that is Manor in Yorkshire. Wirth is an R&D centre

  28. Rich C says:

    Nice piece, James.

    I enjoy those little peeks behind the curtains that you give us.

  29. mark says:

    I am at work so can’t watch the video. But i would really like to put forward the cncept of why the new teams were treated so BADLY in no testing time etc by F1 or FIA or whoever it is.

    Not only is it unfair, it is / was dangerous.

    Why can they not have a concession to have a couple/few test days for the first two years of their involvement.

    Not only would this have allowed them to get mechanically sorted (and safe to compete with / against) but would also give them a little bit of extra publicity (sponsor coverage) which I am sure would help out (Hispania for instance)….

    I can see why they accepted the terms of the entry as they did, was almost certainly this or nothing, but where are the heads of the people running this sport?

    Honestly, a great sport survives despite the monkeys running the zoo.

  30. Andrew says:

    The only way i can see team orders being effective is if the # 1 driver is behind the #2 driver. With 5 races to go how often is this going to happen?
    Even if there is the situation where Hamilton is behind Button or Webber behind Vettel I dont see how its an advantage to let the one behind past. Sure one driver might get a couple more points but they could crash next race and the other driver picks up good points and your back to square one.

  31. Mr Anderson says:

    Does anybody know what the constructors championship situation is between Virgin/HRT/Lotus? What race position do Virgin need to achieve the overtake HRT/Lotus? Thanks!

  32. Stefanos says:

    James, you have writen to great lengths about the new teams (Virgin and Lotus, in particular) and it is great to see that someone is paying attention.

    However, with regards to Virgin, I’m afraid you might want to be a little more critical. Indeed, this is a cheap way of putting together a car that just about works, but I feel that formula 1 is more than that. I am quite sure that all the other F1 teams using CFD are continuously evaluating its potential and should be more than happy to limit their WT testing, once they have generated sufficient confidence in its output.

    One must be critical of big claims on acurate computer modelling of any sort (and we hear that on anything from financial forecasting to drug testing).

    1. Mark Crooks says:

      So you are saying James should be more critical based on his feelings or personal opinions rather than facts.

      James isn’t a Sun reporter you know he’s a proper journalist.

      I say let Nick make his claims and give him a couple of years to try and prove the concept can work before we send out the wolves on him.

      1. Stefanos says:

        What are the facts, then? Critical analysis should be part and parcel of the journalism you describe. I am not happy for any chancer to make whatever clams they might and get away with it for as long as they can. Take financial models, for example. Your approach is what allowed them to be used until proven inacurate – with devastating consequences for the global economy. I appreciate that F1 is not quite as critical, but it is exactly the same analogy.

  33. Azlas says:

    James I have a question thats going to make me look like an utter fool but I’m going to ask it anyway:

    Whats stopping a team with Mclaren or Ferrari’s budget building an ‘under-ground’ or ‘indoor’ test track, build a 3rd chassis, take samples of bridgestone rubber to get approximately a similar rubber compound, build similar engines to the current ones in use (mclaren couldnt ask mercedes but I’m sure they could build something similar – they have an engine unit now I believe for their road cars) and then secretly test a 3rd car for hours on end to get ‘unlimited’ testing
    without the knowledge of the FIA or other teams?

    You could hire a test staff contracted to secrecy and test any new parts for real. I know if I had an f1 team with a huge budget I’d at least try to get away with this!

    Again sorry about this slighly mad question. Would like an answer even if just to humour me (though I partly had the idea when Tony Fernandes jokingly mentioned in your F1fans forum that Martin Whitmarsh had a secret underground pipe to the Mclaren Headquaters form his house lol)

    1. James Allen says:

      The engines wouldn’t go because they wouldn’t have a standard Electronic Control Unit, which are FIA controlled.

  34. Phil says:

    Of course _if_ NW Research wanted to use a wind tunnel they could always go round the corner and use Torro Rossos!!

    They’ve done well with a CFD only approach. This season has been a huge learning curve for them – they can only get better next season imho.

  35. Mark V says:

    I’m a big fan of how computers are leveling the playing field in so many industries, particularly creative ones so I have been keenly watching Virgin’s progress. It’s risky to go all CFD but I think it will pay off if they can stick with it until they work out the kinks and the technology improves a bit (and it always does at a much faster rate than anticipated). For example, I am a musician and have seen how quickly computers have taken over. The things I can do in my own little home studio for 1000 dollars would have been impossible in 100000 dollar studio 15 years ago. Now it’s all becoming available for iphones!

  36. Frankie says:

    As much as we need and wish all the new teams well, Virgin gives amateur a bad name. Just admit the cfd approach is what they believe their approach to be the best with the funds they have available, fans will happily accept that. When you get the basics so wrong, there is something way adrift at the top.

  37. JohnBt says:

    LOL. Loved the quick highlight of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey. Was thinking what similarities they had with F1, loudness came to mind.

  38. Mr G says:

    Just a reminder.
    Every established team has an hystorical data bank from previous years while Virgin has not had that advantage this year.
    The use of the data of the CFD from this year plus the data from the track will allow them to close the gap in terms of actual data knowledge and therefore possibility to develop.
    If the data model is correct, Virgin could make a significant development in next year car.
    It is paramount that they will focus solely on the development of the car when the car will be running and not trying to make sure that the car will start and will be able to do some laps.
    Virgin and Lotus has been restricted enormourly this season by reliability issues, they needed to make sure the car was able to start and run before concentrating into the development.
    Both teams look like they decided to pair themselves with a reliable suppier of engine – gear box – rear end of the car as Force India.
    Overall I think Virgin will be able to close the gap next season and they might be able, like Lotus, to fight with the back fo the mid field such as Toro Rosso and Sauber.

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