Autosport: Virgin to shift focus after Silverstone


Champion Elect

So, Virgin have decided not to develop their 2011 car further after the Silverstone and switch focus to next year's car with the new technical team, i.e. they're "doing a Brawn". Now on the face of it, and certainly in previous years, this would seem to be a good decision. However, with the reintroduction of the 107% rule this year I think they might be making a mistake.

Today d'Ambrosio was outside of 107%, although he is being allowed to race tomorrow for some reason (maybe he gave them cake). The likes of Red Bull, McLaren etc. will certainly be developing their cars throughout the year so it would seem reasonable to me to expect Virgin to be outside of 107% more often than not in the latter half of the season.

If the stewards actually start enforcing the 107% rule surely this will leave Virgin in a bad way? For example, I can't see their sponsors being very happy about the loss of TV airtime and Bernie has stated on many occasions that he thinks 12 teams is too many so perhaps they will start to come under pressure from him and possibly the other teams as well.

This is all quite speculative, but if they do end up sitting out a lot of races it could end up hurting them quite badly I fear.
One saving grace for the tailenders is the reluctance of the front teams to use the faster tyres in Q1. Not sure what teams like HRT, Virgin and Lotus us, presumably the softer option. Understand your point Sushi, this could be bad for Virgin although it appears the 107% rule doesn't really mean much. I hope Virgin do sort things, the Wirth experiment seems to have failed dreadfully.
Very valid point sushi, I can't see them just waiving the 107% rule every race, I think today was because it was a new chassis... Do you really think Virgin will be on the grid next year? I wonder what Sir Richard thinks of all this?
I suppose my question is, if Virgin have split with Wirth, who would actually be producing updates for the car anyway? Manor is just a race team; Pat Symonds hasn't got a windtunnel in his garden. Arguably they were always going to have to write off the current car until they have their own facility properly set up?
Haven't they got some sort of arrangement with McLaren? I think that's what was mentioned when the spit with Wirth Research was announced.
That's a good point Galahad, and in the article Booth makes the comment that they won't be appointing a new Technical director in the immediate future. Having said that I suspect that behind the scenes Pat Symonds may be taking Wirth's roll...

You would think they could have arranged things so the transition was a bit smoother. Were things with Wirth really so bad that they had to immediately cut off all ties from him leaving them with very few facilities and technical staff? It makes me wonder whether there are factors in the decision that we're not aware of...
Marussia may well have carbon fibre manufacturing capability, I hadn't thought of that.

There are various companies out there from whom windtunnel time can be hired, and other companies who you can hire to manufacture carbon bits and pieces, but I suspect getting organised enough to make the best use of those options would take time, and strong technical leadership, and produce inferior results to a fully integrated system anyway.
I hope they don't tie up Symonds - I love the stuff he writes in F1 Racing. It would be a real shame if we lost that insight.

I think you are probably right though...
With the upcoming huge changes in the following years regs, starting from scratch for a car for next season seems somewhat foolish to me. Add to that the fact that Virgin doesn't exactly seem to be rolling in money, and I am not optomistic about their prospects for next year, particularly if they start failing to meet the 107% rule with regularity this season.
A timely thread as for the first time this season, Virgin were the slowest of the qualifiers:

This is no doubt due in part to HRT's new blown floor/diffuser, but it's quite clear that Virgin are at best standing still, if not going backwards slowly.

If they do start breaching the 107% rule then they're going to be losing valuable feedback and data from the circuits, which will put them on the back foot for next year.
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