THE 2010 FORMULA 1 grid is starting to come together, with Virgin Racing the latest to reveal its hand. This week, the new team - formerly Manor Motorsport - revealed its 2010 Virgin Racing VR-01 F1 race car.
The VR-01 is the first Formula 1 car to be designed entirely on computer, right down to aerodynamic studies; in other words, not a single model was built out here in the real world for wind tunnel testing.
"Today is a very proud day for everyone involved with Virgin Racing, however on this occasion, where the car is the star, I want to pay tribute to all the amazing people at Wirth Research who deserve so much of the credit for the VR-01," designer Nick Wirth said.
"Putting together an F1 team, assembling an engineering group and designing a new car from scratch is an epic task in the timeframe we have been working to.
Virgin says the process, called Computational Fluid Dynamics, has resulted in "digitally-tested smooth-as-hell curves".
Wirth acknowledged that designing entirely in the digital realm has its own limitations, but was adamant that wind tunnels and real models come with their own baggage.
"We fully expect to encounter issues along the way; CFD is an approximation - as is scale-model testing," Wirth said.
"In both cases, it is only when you hit the track that you can really appreciate the effect of factors that are tricky to model with any technology such as the effect that the real stiffness of all bodywork components and joints has on the airflow for example".
"We are a serious racing team with serious ambitions, so we aren't going to try to run before we can walk," Wirth added said.
"The starting point is to try to run reliably, safely and efficiently and be the best of the new teams. Then we will start to bring performance to the car through a continuous development programme in computer simulation."
As reported late last year, the Virgin Racing cars are powered by Cosworth, recently returned to F1 from a four-year sabbatical.
This year, Cosworth is providing power not only to Virgin, but also Williams, Lotus, US F1, Red Bull's Toro Rosso and Campos Meta.
The team's two VR-01 cars will be driven by former Toyota steerer Timo Glock and newcomer Lucas di Grassi from Brazil - second place finisher in the 2007 GP2 series (behind Timo Glock, funnily enough).