Technical problems hit Virgin F1 launch

Virgin Racing today became the first of Formula One's new teams to launch their new car but technical difficulties prevented any grand unveiling.

In an effort to reflect that the VR-01 is the first 'all-digital' car, the team opted for a digital online launch on their website, only for gremlins to wreak havoc.

The team will naturally be hoping the CFD - computational fluid dynamics - used to design, build and initially test their car, as opposed to expensive wind-tunnel testing, has proven more reliable.

Technical director Nick Wirth is the brains behind the CFD car that will now have a shake-down test at Silverstone tomorrow and Friday before making its full track debut in the second pre-season test in Jerez next week.

When the team eventually managed to display a single photograph of the car on their website, it at least boasted a distinctive red and black livery.

After 10 months in the making, a delighted Wirth said: "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.

"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.

"I have been fortunate to have worked with the very best designers in F1 and I am well aware of exactly what it takes to be successful in this sport.

"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 this could be the way for the future of F1 is very, very exciting."

Team owner Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin brand adorns the car in the wake of his sponsorship deal with Manor GP who acquired the initial entry, is naturally hoping to have witnessed the birth of something special.

"What a car," exclaimed Branson.

"Nick and his design team have done an incredible job, and so today they deserve all of the spotlight.

"It's been fantastic to be part of this journey almost from the very beginning, and to see a great engineering mind at work.

"I'm sure we will be measured by how fast the car is on the track in Jerez next week, but I hope that doesn't overshadow the far bigger achievement of pulling an entire racing team together and taking a brave step that defies convention.

"In many ways this is an exploration, but given the absolute self-belief we have seen, I can't help but feel very excited about what we can go on to achieve in the years ahead.

"For now though, I'm looking forward to seeing the VR-01 on-track in testing in the coming weeks as we prepare for Virgin Racing's very first grand prix."