Marussia invests in Virgin

2011 F1 season

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Nikolay Fomenko with Lucas di Grassi and Timo Glock

Russian sports car company Marussia has acquired a “significant stake” in Virgin Racing, and the team will race as Marussia Virgin Racing in 2011.

Chief executive of Virgin Racing Graeme Lowdon said:

This is definitely a good news story for Virgin Racing and for Formula One. Marussia Motors has been a much-valued team partner throughout the 2010 season and we are delighted to introduce them formally as the significant shareholder in Virgin Racing and a major force in the team’s future. This announcement cements our place on the Formula One grid and is testimony to the hard work and dedication of every single member of our team.
Graeme Lowdon

Marussia has been a sponsor of Virgin since the team was launched at the end of last year and its logos already appear on the cars’ rear wing end plates.

Marussia owner Nikolay Fomenko said:

This is the realisation of a dream for Marussia Motors. While manufacturing, launching and marketing the Marussia B1, B2 and other concepts in Europe, we will have a Formula One team to promote these activities and demonstrate to the world that a new car manufacturer has arrived from Russia with truly international ambitions.
Nikolay Fomenko

Marussia’s first car, the B1, is due to go on sale next year. The mid-engined sports car will be joined by the B2 and other models including SUVs in the future.

Like the VR-01, the B1 is powered by a Cosworth engine. General manager of Cosworth Mark Gallagher welcomed the news, saying:

Marussia has proven to be an excellent automotive client for Cosworth and it is a significant step for them to have opted to invest in Virgin Racing and further develop their relationship with us.

We have already been working closely with Marussia over the last 12 months and are fully engaged in assisting them with their ambitions to become the first upmarket, global Russian automotive company.

Following the news that a Formula One race will be held for the first time in Russia in 2014, Marussia’s important announcement concerning Virgin Racing further illustrates the impact the sport is beginning to make across Russia, and is therefore a welcome development.
Mark Gallagher

There will be “no significant change to the team’s organisational structure” ahead of the 2011 seasson, according to a press statement.

Virgin founder Richard Branson said:

Our first year in Formula One was always going to be tough – even more so as we were launching in the midst of a worldwide recession. Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the Formula One grid.
Richard Branson

Read more: list of 2011 F1 drivers and teams

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “Marussia invests in Virgin”

  1. Prisoner Monkeys
    11th November 2010, 8:52

    If nothing else, this blows the silly season wide open (though a lot depends on the extent of Marussia’s control, which obviously won’t be a majority). I could see the following scenarios playing out:

    1) Vitaly Petrov and Timo Glock do a straight swap, with Lucas di Grassi staying at Virgin for an extra year; Jerome d’Ambrosio and Giedo van der Garde miss out.

    2) Petrov joins Glock at Virgin, with Sutil, Heidfeld, d’Ambrosio or van der Garde going to Renault; however, this makes little sense as even if Renault want to rid themselves of Petrov, it would make more sense to keep him around for a year instead of replacing him with a rookie.

    3) Petrov stays at Renault or leaves entirely; Fomenko gets Mikhail Aleshin into the second Virgin with a plethora of Russian sponsors.

    1. 4) Vladimir Putin decides that a one-off test wasn’t enough and arranges for him to drive the second Renault, whilst Petrov moves to Virgin…

      1. Obama, unfazed, fires up the USF1 team and starts an arms race. Germany, with their race car making pride at stake, start another world war.

        1. And the French will strike so the FIA will not be able to assemble and everyone will name their own champions at the end of the season.

          1. No, the French won’t back off. France will be the battleground, ala Magny-Cours. It’s fine by me. I want that track back in F1.

          2. The Italians take a controversial step and only build one car…. What? It could happen! XD

            Of course, all this may leave Webber bouncing around on a kangaroo…

    2. Argh, Petrov has been the worst rookie of the season. It has been painful to watch.

      I feel for the guy. It’s been a nightmare.

      Maybe Renault have put him under too much pressure.

      1. I am willing Petrov on though. I’d love to see him turn it around.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        11th November 2010, 10:23

        I think the reason for Petrov’s reception is largely because Renault weren’t actually expecting to be where they are. In fact, I recall reading that they were expecting to be where they are now until this time next year. But the initial wind tunnel data and performances of the R30 were so good that they accelerated development. It doesn’t help that Petrov is alongside Kubica, one f the highest-rated drivers on the grid, and never actually had any third-party support from a team the way Hulkenberg and Kobayashi did.

        1. I have a feeling you are actually warming to Petrov a bit there PM!

          Fully agree with what you say about the driver possibilities at Virgin and Renault.

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            11th November 2010, 11:51

            I have a feeling you are actually warming to Petrov a bit there PM!

            I’ve been flying the banner for Petrov since day one. I’ve been a little harsh on him of late, but that’s because of the high rate of incidents.

        2. I’ve been worse than harsh… I like Pet but I don’t think he belongs in a F1 car. He could bring a hundren million to Renault and Renault would still be a one car team at the end of the day.

    3. which obviously won’t be a majority

      How wrong you are, apparently. Marussia have taken a controlling stake in the company, and aren’t shy about spelling out their ambition to make this a Russian team, flying the Russian flag. They’re so forward about it, it’s slightly uncomfortable to read.

      They’re very ambitious!

      1. Yeah, but if they claim they’re going to be fully Russian, they should be based in Russia, with Russian engineers, like Ferrari. Otherwise such claim is somewhat misleading/disillusional.

        1. You mean like Mercedes is German, and Renault was French and Red Bull is Austrian, and Force India is Indian…?

        2. What would you say to the press (especially your local press), when buying into a Team. Sure I have a stake, but it will only mean they have my name on it, or would you boldly state this makes the team yours and fits in with your Russian image (name with Russia in it, play on words) and you as a (startup) car builder will support development and supply parts.

          Dont forget, Marussia is just now starting, the first models were launched recently. They have an orderbook of the first 700 cars and will be able to build half of that next year. This is more about buying awareness and getting into the market than anything else.
          Good move though, if Wirth and Booth don’t mess up, it will be pretty cheap but effective marketing (buy our car and get to pick it up as a VIP guest at a race of your choise will surely get some buyers in, won’t it?)

    4. They’ve already said that Petrov is on their minds, but not next year. They want him continuing his development in a competitive car, so that next year when the team has developed further he is a more attractive prospect.

  2. Fomenko gets Mikhail Aleshin into the second Virgin

    That could be taken the wrong way!!

    1. Now you are seriously abusing this second Virgin and the wrong way around as well!

  3. I still believe all drivers need at least 2 years to prove themselves. Petrov should move to virgin while Glock goes to Reno.

    Glock has proven over and over that he is a star. He just needs the opportunity.

  4. Does this mean that Virgin is now officially a Russian team? :/

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      11th November 2010, 10:04

      No. It’s uncertain just how much of the team Marussia have purchased, but I’ve heard that they purchased the stake previously owned by Lloyds Bank PLC, which would equate to roughly fifteen percent of the team.

    2. Apparently the new owner thinks so:

      Step by step we’ll make it a fully Russian F1 team flying the Russian flag – it means that today one of the twelve teams is Russian. We now have the controlling share of the company – no doubt about it.

      The team that Hamilton drove for in Formula 3 have come a long way, as has Russia’s involvement in F1.

      1. Russia’s second F1 team, of course.

        1. The first being Midland right?

          1. Well, technically … yes. Alex Shnaider was born in St. Petersburg, but he’s actually Canadian, as is the Midland company. He decided to enter Midland as a Russian team for what I can only assume were sentimental purposes. I can’t imagine the Russians took too kindly to this; my best friend is Russian, and while she likes it when I try and learn her language(s), she would be pretty upset if I went around claiming I was Russian just became of my connection to Russia through her. So for all intents and purposes, Marussia will be the first genuinely-Russian team.

          2. PM, this team will be just as much Russian as Midland ever was, or probably less so.

            The team will be based in England, ran by booths team, designed by Wirth and internationally branded through Virgin and I doubt they will race under a russian licence any time soon. Only the drivers might eventually get to be from Russia.

            Midland was registered in Russia so it was Russian just as much as FI is Indian, Renault is French, RBR is Austrian etc.

          3. BasCB, Fomenko is Russian, Marussia Motors is a Russian company. So you are wrong, it will be much more Russian team, than Midland was.

          4. Sure, Marussia is competely russian Snusmumr. But until they actually buy the whole Virgin/Manor etc. team and move it from the UK to Russia, or at least transfer the licence to Russia the racing team bearing their name in its title will not be even as Russian as Midland ever was (I know, that was “Russian” by licence only with its 100% Canadian owner hoping to get some Russian sponsors on board).
            And for now we have no reason to believe the Marussia Virgin Racing team will be majority owned by a russian nor that they will actually race under a russian licence.

  5. Prisoner Monkeys
    11th November 2010, 10:10

    Interesting story about Virgin’s plans for 2011: in addition to Marussia’s backing, Wirth Research is upgrading their design facilities to include the third most powerful supercomputer in the world. To put that in a little bit of perspective, Wirth Research will have a supercomputer more powerful than Los Alamos’ “Roadrunner”, NASA’s “Pilades” and Lawrence Livermore’s “Blue Gene/L” computers. Virgin’s 2011 car will be designed by a supercomputer more powerful than the ones purpose-built for space exploration and the development of nuclear weapons.

    1. Which would be great if they had a wind tunnel to use it alongside with..

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        11th November 2010, 11:56

        They don’t need a wind tunnel. That’s the entire point of CFD. Using CFD is not what has caused them to be three seconds slower than the established teams. Virgin – like Lotus and Hispania – have been off the pace because they’ve had to establish a full team as well as develop a car. And it was more important to get the basics of the car right than it was to be matching the other teams for pace. The more sophisticated the aerodyncamis of the car, the more chance there is that something will go wrong, which means that the team would be force to go back to square one for 2011 and waste another year. The VR-01 is comparable to the T127, which was built using the traditional wind tunnel. This is proof that CFD is not a complete waste of resources: Wirth has been able to build a car that is as good as one that uses a wind tunnel without actually needing a wind tunnel.

        1. And what could Wirth have done with a wind tunnel? I think you’re missing the mark a bit there, about as much as Virgin was missing the funds to have a tunnel.

          1. Prisoner Monkeys
            11th November 2010, 12:33

            But the entire point of Wirth’s involvement is that he’s not using a wind tunnel. Virgin have the smallest budget on the grid, and they’re trying to prove that you can run a team for less than forty million dollars. CFD is a big part of that because windtunnel use makes up a serious portion of most teams’ budgets. Windtunnels run for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, because you can’t shut them down. It’s actually cheaper to keep them running year-round than it is to start and stop them as needed.

    2. I suppose Wirth would fancy some development work for Marussia as well.
      And maybe a tie in for some sportscar racing as well.

  6. Intersting story that is bound to be overshadowed by the Lotus announcement. What I want to know is: what, if any, are Marussia’s corporate colours? Could we be looking at another 2011 livery change here?

    1. Just looked at their website. Their logo is blue, white and red, and their website has a blue background, but their cars are a wide range of colours. I don’t think they have chosen a particular colour yet.

      1. russian flag colours then?

        1. Just add a bit of light blue to the current paint scheme, easy.

          1. Actually in some of the press releases the Marussia car shown is painted in back and red, just like the Virgin Racing cars are now. It looks pretty good so they might stay with these colours.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      11th November 2010, 12:06

      Something like this, perhaps?

      Of course, it would be dependent upon Marussia bringing Russian sponsors to the table. They may be interested, what with the Russian driver, the upcoming Russian Grand Prix and now a (partially) Russian-owned team, that unlike the last one actually has a claim to being Russian (Midland’s Alex Shnaider was born in St. Petersburg, but the Midland Group was a Canadian enterprise). I know Mikhail Aleshin has Lukoil backing …

      However I’d hate to see Virgin’s current livery disrupted. I think the red and black and the tribal elements make it one of the finest we’ve seen. It’s right up there with the black and gold John Player Special livery and the Malboro-McLarens.

  7. Now. Real Russian money comes to f1….see what happened to Chelsea….
    They are going to buy all top talent, in the sport pilots and engineers; destabilize the wage structure, THE RUSSIANS believe that everything and everyone has a price

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      11th November 2010, 12:08

      Da, comrade! Perestoika! Glasnost! Matroyshka!

      As you can see, I’m already bought and paid for.

  8. News just in.. Reliant have bought 40% of HRT, for a pound. Next year they will be called the Hispania Reliant Racing HRRT F1 Racing Reliant Team.

    I think there’s an Irony about Russian money, and Branson’s clean fuels push.

  9. So swap of Glock and Petrov between Renault and Marussia are quite possible now.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      11th November 2010, 12:10

      Actually, if I were Marussia Virgin – even Nikolai Fomenko, the owner of Marussia – I’d want to keep Glock. He’s got more experience than Petrov and will be better for the team. And speaking of Fomenko, he’s said he’s against taking Petrov until such time as the team can produce a faster car than the VR-01. I wouldn’t actually be surprised if Marussia are getting their name out there for 2011, with a view to selling their stake in Virgin for 2012 and buying Renault for their own.

  10. That’s nice to see that some auto manufacturer are again showing interest to come back in F1. The biggest question is if Renault don’t keep Petrov then he may have some other place to go if Russia don’t bring out another F1 driver.

    Let Glock stay with the team & put someone else in that place.

    1. Honda made it in F1, but as an engine supplier and not as a team. Same team failure with Toyota and BMW, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. There is something about manufactures that doesn’t sit well with modern F1 outside of Ferrai and maybe Renault whose perhaps best years were as an engine supplier.

      It’s really weird considering the resources that these manufactures have.

      1. Mercedes came back & I think they will stay in F1 for a very long time.Manufacturer can come in if they don’t spend money for odd reason like Toyota.

  11. Now this gives them the ridiculous name of ‘Marussia Virgin Racing Cosworth’ which is almost as bad as ‘Etihad Aldar Spyker Ferrari’.

  12. Forgive me if i’m mistaken, but if Marussia are only releasing their first car, the ‘B1’ next year, then how have they had the financial wealth to buy into Virgin and be involved in f1? Have they been automotive suppliers prior to releasing domestic vehicles or what?

    1. The owner has money to build a new car factory. Now he has bought a stake in an F1 team as well, as this is a good way to promote the cars he is going to build. Nice thinking.
      Compare Spyker buying out Midland. The company is building a couple of hundred sportscars since 2000 or so. They thought getting into F1 would help sales (just his gambling on the car sales actually paying for it did not work out, quite as planned forcing him to sell to Mallya).

  13. i always thought it said ‘Map-russia’! lol

  14. Apart from the initial CFD cock-up with the fuel tank…it will be good to see a team make it through this year, far from using conventional methods.

    1. CFD is for developing aerodynamics. You don’t design a fuel tank using CFD. Apparently the size was fixed, then the fuel density changed, so less fuel would fit in the same volume.


    what a lame name for an F1 team… sorry to Marussia-fans, but it just is.

    Good topic for the forum. Which is the lamest teamname ever to be part of a grand prix?

    1. F1 is turning into A1!

      You’ll have Marussia next season, then you’ll have of course Force India and if Lotus Group get their way over Fernandes, we’ll probably have 1Malaysia F1!

      Throw in the fact that McLaren are doing everything they can to be an all-Briton team and Mercedes all-Germany, I was saying this before about how F1 is becoming abit nationalistic nowadays.

      Really though, check out their Wikipedia. Marussia are a sports car company, a small one like Spyker was, it’s not going to give any insight into their performances in F1, and their contribution to Virgin is still small, but they should be able to have a decent 2011 season. These new CFD facilities won’t be ready in time to design the 2011 car, only to help with upgrades. That’s what they’ve already said.

      1. F1 is turning into A1!

        You’ll have Marussia next season

        But Marussia aren’t really a “national” team the way Force India and 1Malaysia are. They’re a car manufacturer, and their name just happens to contain the word “Russia”. I don’t know the exact etymology of their name, bu I do know that “Russia” is derived from “Rus'”, and so roughly translates as “Land of Rus'”. I’m willing to bet that “Marussia” has a similarly-patriotic connotation.

        1. The etymology based on word play. It derived from the diminutive-hypocoristic form of the name Maria – Marusya – and country name in English. And Marussia sounds like Marusya.

          1. So it’s a team with a woman’s name?

            I like them already.

          2. So it’s a team with a woman’s name?
            I like them already.

            And apparently she’s a Virgin. Queue many jokes about pay rides and coming last.. But we’re above that sort of stuff on this site.

            Right above it.

          3. Yea, right on top of her.

          4. How dare you to make such dirty jokes about “Virgin Mary”!

      2. Actually Mercedes is not all-german team. Not at all. And Ferrari too is heavily sponsored (or even partly owned) by muslims.

    2. I guess HRT would score pretty high on that list!

  16. Oh yeah, forgot that HRT stood for HISPANIA team racing. A1, it’s already A1.

    1. Actually, Hispania is not the traditional name of Spain. Espana is the name of the country, whilst Iberia refers to the peninsula (Spain an Portugal). Hispania refers to the people themselves; people who come from Latin and South America and the Iberian Peninsula in general – really, anyone who speaks Spanish as a native language – are referred to as Hispanic. And Hispania is the name of Jose Ramon Cabarante’s umbrella company. He’s in property development and a couple of other industries, and all of his companie are a part of the Hispania Group (or Groupo Hispanai in Spanish). To me, “national” teams are teams that get directly subsidised by the national government for the express purposes of being a national team. Lotus and Force India meet this criteria; Marussia and Hispania do not.

      But with Formula 1 being so expensive, can you really blame these teams for getting government backing?

      1. It worked for Mercedes and Auto Union.

  17. Question that I’m hoping someone can answer: does this mean that Marussia will become a constructor, or will Virgin stay? I’m trying to solve a dispute (that I may or may not have started) on Wikipedia: namely, that because Virgin are the title sponsor and Marussia have bought into Manor Grand Prix, it means Marussia are constructor.

    1. DeadManWoking
      12th November 2010, 8:36

      Here’s a Fomenko quote from the BBC article:

      “Step by step we’ll make it a fully Russian F1 team flying the Russian flag – it means that today one of the twelve teams is Russian. We now have the controlling share of the company – no doubt about it.”

    2. I can give you a quote from Russian press. “That is, in this case politically correct words for mutually beneficial cooperation have found real meaning: the competitive environment of Formula 1 teaches workers of Marussia latest trends and technical thoughts, and the Russian company produces for the racing team a number of components. Virgin gets free parts, Marussia gets bright minds and fresh solutions.”

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