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.