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New cars from Virgin, Hispania and Force India complete the field
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New cars from Virgin, Hispania and Force India complete the field
Posted By: James Allen  |  08 Feb 2011   |  10:41 pm GMT  |  45 comments

The second official test starts on Thursday at Jerez in Spain and in the last couple of days we have had the launch of the new Virgin and Force India cars. Hispania has yet to launch, but it released some images of the car today, just in front of Force India. It also announced that it will not take part in the Jerez test but will instead test in Italy on a Pirelli filming day.

Virgin held a showbiz event at the BBC TV Centre on Monday. The car is the second F1 product from the digital nerve centre at Wirth Research, the technical partner of Virgin Racing. It is also the first since the team took on a significant shareholder and title sponsor Marussia, some of whose executives are now integrated into the engineering and management structure of the team. So important is their presence that the team is now racing under a Russian licence.


Virgin has a more stable base since the Marussia investment and now it’s really all about how good the car is. Unlike Lotus and Hispania, who have done customer back end deals, Virgin is sticking with the Xtrac hydraulics and gearbox, last year’s versions of which proved troublesome.

“We were extremely pleased to have proved our digital design process in Formula One last season and to have demonstrated that it is possible to compete at the highest level of motor sport with a car designed wholly in computer simulation,” said Wirth.

“We have addressed every single issue that troubled us last year, but in our own unique digital way. For example, the hydraulics and gearbox oil problems of last year have resulted in us doing more CFD in these areas alone than we used in the entire aero design program our first digital race-winning sportscar in 2008. In Abu Dhabi we took the opportunity to prove out these digital improvements by successfully track-testing a number of systems for the MVR-02.

“The MVR-02 is a giant step forward from the VR-01, and we are looking forward to further improvements here as we finally begin to benefit from the new Supercomputer that our partners CSC have provided for 2011.”

One possible ace in the hand for the team is the Wirth Simulator, on which the company has extensive experience over several years of building tyre models for Michelin. This could stand them in very good stead in terms of understanding and exploiting the Pirelli tyre and could be a differentiator from other smaller teams.

The drivers are Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio. Glock is capable of great things and had some outstanding drives in 2010 which went largely unnoticed at the back of the field. Like Trulli and Kovalainen, the senior drivers who took a step down last year to start again with a new team, he will be hoping that this car gives him the chance to mix it with the midfield teams. It will be a disappointment for Lotus and Virgin if they are still running in their own Class B at the back this year.


Force India did a live web launch this afternoon ahead of the first day of testing in Jerez. Driver Adrian Sutil said that the team is targeting fifth place in the constructors’ championship. “Everything is different but visually a lot of it is subtle,” said new technical director Andy Green. “The most obvious change is that we’ve gone away from a conventional roll-hoop to a blade. But there are a lot of differences under the skin that people won’t necessarily notice.

“Exhaust management will be a big area of development this year. There will be a big upgrade for the first race so there are some changes that will come into effect at the Barcelona test. Further down the road there are some big updates for the front of the car coming in for the first European race.

Force India cars have recently been good at low downforce circuits and not so good on high downforce ones. The technical team has made efforts to address this.

They have the Mercedes KERS system which is a big help to the team as it is both one of the lightest and most reliable systems in the field.

Force India started last season strongly but was overhauled in the points table by Williams as developments did not translate to big enough gains on the track. Although they have taken an extra week in the wind tunnel at the start of the season in order to have the strongest car at the opening races, they are also targeting a strong finish to the season. The battle with Williams over sixth place looks set to continue, although the team is aiming higher.

The team finished seventh in the constructors’ championship last year when Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi were at the wheel and team owner Vijay Mallya is now expecting a significant improvement.

“’2010 was an exceptional year for the team, 68 points overall, seventh in the championship with only teams who had previously won world titles ahead of us, which demonstrated we are still on target to achieve our goals,” said Mallya.

“And this year there is even more to be optimistic about. We’ve got three race drivers that are hungry to take the next steps in their careers, whether that be points, podiums or wins.”

Paul di Resta signed for the team in January after impressing in his role as their reserve driver last season. The 24-year-old will become the third Brit on the grid alongside McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

“I don’t want to say exact targets on record as there are so many factors that can come into play,” said di Resta. “What I do want to do is to have a positive approach, finish, be consistent and contribute strongly to the team’s overall performance. We’ve got high aims of finishing in a good constructors’ championship position and I know that I’ve got to play my part in this.”


Hispania released images of their 2011 challenger – the F111 – earlier on Tuesday morning.

Technical director Geoff Willis and chief designer Paul White are responsible for the new car which features a distinct livery, created by design expert Daniel Simon. The old dark grey colour has been replaced by an eye-catching chequered flag design with flashes of red.

The team have marked out areas where potential sponsors could have their logos because as yet, Narain Karthikeyan’s backers Tata are the only sponsor on the car.

“The F111 represents a significant step forward for Hispania Racing,” said team boss Colin Kolles.

“We have made a big improvement for starting our second season in Formula 1 and what you see in our new car confirms Hispania Racing’s commitment to F1.”

The team won’t be in Jerez for the second pre-season test after deciding to do some private filming with their 2010 car for tyre supplier Pirelli at Monza. Instead, they are hoping to have their new car ready to test for the first time at the final test in Bahrain.

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45 Comments
  1. Nilesh says:

    “The most obvious change is that we’ve gone away from a conventional roll-hoop to a blade.”

    Wasn’t the blade design banned this season? I thought that’s why Mercedes went with the conventional approach.

    Does HRT have a new car? This one looks like the Dallara one with a new job.

    1. Luke Harrison says:

      I thought that about the blade design.

      This blade-style roll hoop design was introduced by Mercedes in 2010 in order to improve airflow to the rear wing. For 2011 the FIA has decided such solutions could prove dangerous in incidents of cars rolling on a soft surface such as grass or sand, where the blade could cut into the ground. A minimum cross section has thus been imposed, to discourage similar designs.

      FIA Technical Regulation
      15.2.4 – The principal roll structure must have a minimum enclosed structural cross section of 10000mm², in vertical projection, across a horizontal plane 50mm below its highest point. The area thus established must not exceed 200mm in length or width and may not be less than 10000mm2 below this point.

      Source: F1.com

      1. Nilesh says:

        Thanks for that info Luke!

  2. DC Corey says:

    James:

    Any word on the second driver at HRT? Assume whoever it is will have to come with quite a bit of money, right?

  3. Kevin M says:

    The Hispania car is actually looking pretty good this year. Hopefully all the ‘new’ teams can take a step forward this season. It would definitely make the racing more exciting.

  4. ElChiva says:

    “For example, the hydraulics and gearbox oil problems of last year have resulted in us doing more CFD in these areas alone than we used in the entire aero design program our first digital race-winning sportscar in 2008. In Abu Dhabi we took the opportunity to prove out these digital improvements by successfully track-testing a number of systems for the MVR-02.”

    This was Russian to me. Anyone care to shed some light on this paragraph? Gearbox oil problems tested under CFD? not a good old test rig?

    1. Monad says:

      Wondering that myself. What exactly is the use of CFD for hydraulics problems?

    2. Stephen says:

      I could be wrong on this but I was aware of CFD as a tool for modelling the flow of fluids long before I was aware of it being use for the flow of air. I would assume most fluid / hydraulic systems are simulated first these days as it is a fairly well proven technology.

      My (very basic) understanding is that as fluids are pretty much a closed system they are much easier to simulate than air flow which has all sorts of extra complexity.

      I’d assume their simulations will be to find and eliminate any restrictions in the hydraulic system which are leading to failures from things like excess pressure and friction.

      1. mvi says:

        The term fluid refers to both liquids and gases so CFD can be used for mathematically modelling the behaviour of the hydraulics as well as the air flow.

    3. Uppili says:

      What he means is that the hydraulics and pneumatics were fatigue tested in CFD/FEA to predict failure modes and stress points where failure occurs due to high pressure and temperatures. With finite element analysis, if you do it in sufficient detail you don’t need to test it in a test rig. The precise details you would need include material properties (which is fairly common knowledge at-least within the industry), oil pressures and temperatures, viscosity, etc all of which should be available from within the team’s data collection from first few races or from their respective vendors.

    4. unoc says:

      Well basically what it means is…

      Like the other two starters (Lotus and Virgin), we had problems with the back end that came as part of the engine deal with Cosworth.

      We had quite a few problems which amongst other things led to retirements. We decided to combat this by doing going over this small part of the car with CFD alot. Infact we blew more time and money trying to change our car to lower the risks of it braking than Wirth Research (Virgin’s dev team) did when they created a a completely CFD designed sportscar that won back in 2008!

      All was not lost though as we were able to stick our back end fixes onto our old car back in Abu Dhabi last year (testing afterwards) and we fixed something! And all it took was some physical track testing to prove we could do it with digital CFD!

      Oh, and btw, we have now called our succesor to the VR-01 the MVR-02 given our new russian racing license and our lovely new name sponsor Marussia who’s cars look really great.

      OR for a more simplified version

      We big problem. Back end not work. We spend everything on back end. Good businessmen are we. We fix, but blow our budget. Next year better.

      A rather nasty paragraph for PR. But that’s my interpretation

    5. Vinicius says:

      I think he meant simulation but surely there would be some Computational Fluid Dynamics going on a hydraulic system simulation.

    6. Rich C says:

      The internal oil flow in the gearbox and hydraulics has been redesigned I think.

    7. juan says:

      CFD Computer Fluid Dinamics ;)

  5. Azlas says:

    With no kers, HRT, Virgin and Lotus will be at the back of the field at the first corner at almost every race. So yeah, still going to be the B teams I think. For very first corner at least.

  6. Welps says:

    Mclaren won’t be happy with the Hispania livery, from far on a sunny it will look exactly the same.

    Reminds me of Jordan and Minardi a few years back with similar livery.

    1. Brandon says:

      Only Legard would confuse a HRT and McLaren as he did multiple times last year. Thankfully he won’t be doing it this year. HRT is a colossal joke though and the livery on this 2011-but-identical-to-2010 car looks awful. Won’t be surprised if their hydraulics fail a few times this season too since they weren’t smart enough to change it as Lotus did.

  7. Michael Grievson says:

    The Hispania looks horrible. I’m intrigued as to why virgin and Hispania have gone for a low nose when everyone else has gone for a high one

    1. Rich C says:

      Me too. And I swear the picture makes it look as though HRT have either only 1 big element in the rear wing, or at least the top one is very much larger than the botttom.

  8. Paul H says:

    Good to see all the cars revealed at last. Really hoping Virgin can take a big step this season and prove the worth of their methodology. They have a season of data fed into the computers now to aid them and hopefully guide them to a decent step up in performance. Brave to remain using the components that were the main source of reliability problems last season, can’t help feeling the reason has more to do with money than choice. Interesting exhausts on the launch car, can’t see them starting the season like they are currently set up.

    I expected a lot more of Force India last season, hopefully they will have got a hold of their aero package to be better at a wider cross section of circuits. Interesting they have gone with the split fin airbox set up like Lotus, especially with Mercedes choosing not to. Good to hear that they seem to have a good road map for updates too after falling back last season.

    HRT certainly looks 100% better than last season, its a little too much like what you’d see on a childs toy for my taste, but better that than some of the boring schemes others have. I really want to see some progress for them this year and would love for them to surprise people (I know, typical Englishman wanting the underdog to do well) but I just can’t see it. Without a big change in fortune from a new investor or surge in sponsorship I can’t really see them lasting the whole season.

    Good news to hear Chandhok is to do a couple of stints in the cockpit for Lotus in an audition for third driver status. Appears a very good match up, Lotus being so media savvy and appearing to have a fun atmosphere. Chandhok is very articulate and amiable and the added media coverage in the east would be an obvious boon for the team, especially during the inaugural Indian grand prix. Be good to see his times compared to HK and JT as don’t think any of the HRT drivers really had fair comparisons last season and I think there is still big question marks on Chandhok and Senna’s performances as a result.

  9. John says:

    “This Could be YOU”….ROTFLMAO.
    Who really wants to be associated with them? I guess my sponsors dollars could be spent on real team uniforms. I’d rather try explaining to my shareholders which Team Lotus we were associated with.

  10. Kookiez says:

    Hi James

    Could you do a technical feature on the differences between a roll hoop and a blade design. And where the line is drawn between a legal blade and an illegal one. Many thanks

    1. Luke Harrison says:

      I just posted this up top somewhere as well:

      This blade-style roll hoop design was introduced by Mercedes in 2010 in order to improve airflow to the rear wing. For 2011 the FIA has decided such solutions could prove dangerous in incidents of cars rolling on a soft surface such as grass or sand, where the blade could cut into the ground. A minimum cross section has thus been imposed, to discourage similar designs.

      FIA Technical Regulation
      15.2.4 – The principal roll structure must have a minimum enclosed structural cross section of 10000mm², in vertical projection, across a horizontal plane 50mm below its highest point. The area thus established must not exceed 200mm in length or width and may not be less than 10000mm2 below this point.

      Source: F1.com

  11. AuraF1 says:

    The ‘blade’ structure hasn’t been banned the regulation change simply states a minimum cross-section size to prevent the ultra thin design from the 2010 mercedes re-occurring. Can’t tell from the images but I imagine the lotus and FI just went a small amount over the minimum but kept the design theory. The only thing banned is the extended shark fin reaching back to the wing.

  12. Andrew Myers says:

    It concerns me that HRT released images of the car, but haven’t brought it out in public yet. Makes you wonder if the thing actually exists, or whether this is a mock-up.

  13. James says:

    Who built the new Hispania car for them? I didn’t think there was anyone else out there that they could go to. Or is it just the old one with new bits stuck on?
    Plus, on a side note, has any of the Pirelli test drivers said whether the “last” Toyota F1 car was any good or not?

    1. Chris Hill says:

      My guess is the HRT is a new car, Geoff Willis was very scathing about the quality of engineering and build of the Dallara chassis. MY guess is they have outsourced the construction to the usual subjects in the industry but assemble the thing in house. I also believe that the reason that HRT are doing the pirelli filming day is they are getting paid. I think its sad (although in their case necessary) that they have to chase every available $ going. Not sure how they can complete the season without at least some sponsors coming on board. Lets hope i am proved wrong :)

  14. kaushal says:

    Isn’t Paul Di Resta is Scottish and not Brit as you have mentioned?

    1. James Allen says:

      Scottish is British. It is not English

      1. Jim says:

        Just wait – if he does well it will be a triumph for Great Britain, if he doesn’t it will be failure for Scotland ;-) (With apologies to Flanders & Swann).

  15. PaulL says:

    All the cars are within a hairsbreadth of last year’s on the outside. VERY unimpressed, it bespeaks the travesty of the post-2008 rules.

    1. roadie says:

      May I suggest a trip to the optician?

      1. PaulL says:

        Ha well, no. At the end of the day it’s a personal view I’ve held for a long while. I’m surprised not more are in outspoken agreement.

  16. Rich C says:

    They all seem to have their front wings way too high off the ground! ;D

    1. Toby Lerone says:

      They all look a bit bendy to me. Specially the Red Bull!

  17. tank says:

    Hispania being sponsored by lucky strike by any chance? Reminds me of 2006 BAR livery.

  18. Tokyo Nambu says:

    Is Geoff Willis the current Technical Director at HRT? I thought the word was that he’d quit. Good news if he’s there: quiet, competent and a nice bloke.

  19. vannman says:

    I see Wirth is still wearing his rose tinted glasses, as in my opinion they certainly didnt compete at the highest level in motor sport.

    I could of turned up at every race last season in my golf, and at the end of the season finish last with 0 points.

    Saying that I wish them all the best, beating HRT has got to be their target this year.

  20. Olivier says:

    Not my cup of tea, but I do love the new HRT livery! I really do! It does have cojones! One can tell there has been an American designer at play. But I do love it. Especially the numbers.

    It’s the least one could do for his sponsors. They’re not just an expensive sticker, but they want to be part of a beautiful car. Not everyone can be the fastest … it is a matter of respect.

    I hope Team Lotus, Sauber, Virgin and Ferrari take notice.

    I really love the new Mercedes GP, Red Bull, Torro Rosso, Force India, Renault and McLaren. They add a lot of character to F1. They make us dream.

    Let’s hope Williams springs a surprise!

    1. Jeffrey says:

      Don’t count on it, they’ve sported their same old boring blue/white livery for years now. But perhaps the corporate colour of that oil firm will be present…

      The HRT definately looks better than last years car (what a drab looking thing that was) but still without sponsors its not going to make them faster, it’s just a PR joke. Virgin and HRT look a lot alike, especially the nose. Makes me wonder what CFD gives as opposed to a wind tunnel. Hasn’t Wirth seen the other cars?

      My prediction is that we will lose HRT this year, and if Virgin does not improve significantly they will be gone after this season as well… I’m sorry to say, but unlike Team Lotus, which somehow bring confidence and attitude to the sport, the other new teams just seem to fill out the field, not much more. As F1 is very much a sport where only the strongest survive, I don’t think they will survive. They somehow remind me of Pacific and Simtek in mid-90s. Guess Wirth has been there before…

  21. brooza says:

    “seventh in the championship with only teams who had previously won world titles ahead of us”

    Apart from Red Bull, of course

  22. Nathan Smith says:

    James,

    If you were commentating this year would you refer to Renault as ‘Renault’, ‘Lotus’ or ‘Lotus Renault’?

    I’m wondering what the perception is around F1 circles of what the team is called. After all, we have 2 Lotus Renault’s and we don’t call McLaren ‘Vodafone’.

    1. James Allen says:

      I think the default is Renault and the green team is Lotus. After the court case that may or may not change

  23. Andrew Myers says:

    James – have we seen the new Toro Rosso yet? You said this completes the field, but I don’t recall the Toro Rosso. Maybe I missed it…

    1. James Allen says:

      You did. It was testing in Valencia last week. Has an interesting double floor

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