Wirth says Virgin tried Renault’s front exhausts

2011 F1 season

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Renault R31 exhaust, Valencia, 2011

Virgin technical director Nick Wirth says the team investigated producing its own version of Renault’s distinctive front exit exhausts.

Wirth said the team ran a model in their simulator:

“We’d heard about that towards the end of last year. It’s very cost-effective and easy for us to check other solutions out so I can confirm that we have tried a solution very similar to what you see on the other car and it gives results that are very different from ours. We’ve actually gone so far as to get our drivers to test it on the simulator to see.

“We can see why they’ve done it but it takes a team of the financial, human and technical resources of Renault – or Lotus – to make that happen. If you’re fighting where they are you might be interested in doing it but we’re happy with the solution we’ve got.

“It is a massive, massive undertaking what they’ve done, getting high-temperature exhaust gasses past the fuel system, past the cooling system, past wiring, hydraulics and, most important, getting it past safety structures, the side impact structures which are not normally tested at anything other than room temperature.

“So they’ve obviously got to satisfy the FIA that it’s legal, even when it’s hot, so that’s just a massive job and hats off to them for having the bravery to do something like that.”

Wirth added that the regulation changes over the winter should play into Virgin’s hands:

“We did not have a blown diffuser last year which was one of the key technologies. The two interesting things that people were talking about last year, apart from general performance, was the F-duct and the blown diffuser.

“With the F-duct we’ve obviously got the movable rear wing and I think we’ve done a pretty good job on that packaging-wise with its performance.

“The blown diffuser’s been very interesting and there’s certainly some very interesting solutions out there already. We have one which we’ve focused on and we hope proves effective. It certainly looks to be in the wind tunnel.”

Update: A spokesperson clarified Wirth’s remark about the wind tunnel, confirming that the car had not been run in a wind tunnel and said Wirth presumably meant to say CFD.

Image © Julien Leroy / firstlap.be

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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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44 comments on “Wirth says Virgin tried Renault’s front exhausts”

  1. Erm, what wind tunnel?

    1. TheGreatCornholio
      7th February 2011, 15:32

      Lol. Maybe they’ve been telling whoppers all along about their magical CFD!

    2. Update: A spokesperson clarified Wirth’s remark about the wind tunnel, confirming that the car had not been run in a wind tunnel and said Wirth presumably meant to say CFD.

    3. Virtual wind tunnel he probably meant. Not in tune with reality haven immersed himself in all of that CFD data.

  2. “It certainly looks to be in the wind tunnel.”

    wind tunnel – surely not?

    1. Virtual Wind Tunnel :)

      1. The lot of you repeating “wind tunnel” makes you sound like that Meerkat from compare the Market adverts.

        Great Grand daddy John Wirth opened Wind Tunnel Dot Shop.

  3. Bit of an odd statement. Basically ‘it costs too much so no thanks’. No aspiration there at all, which saddens me really as I don’t see the point of being in F1 unless you are in it to win.

    1. I quite understand it. Torro Rosso said something alike at the start of last year, about doing things to find seconds but keeping to their limited budget.

      He knows very well, that most they will acheive this season is the odd point. That can be acheived best by being reliable (Lotus did that last year and HRT beat them in that aspect as well) and making fundamental changes to the car – adding the blown diffusor – and doing things they can test using their CFD.

      Surely after Renault shows it is possible then the others will follow in the next seasons if it brings enough improvement. Following that will be a lot easier and cheaper than being the first to do so.

      1. Well said, after their reliability problems last year it is actually encouraging to hear that they spent a lot of time, already at the Abu Dhabi test, trying out new drivetrain components for this year.

        Last year they learned the hard way that doing things like building your own gearbox casing has issues, it would be a bit silly to start taking those big risks with the car now – and maybe end up again having to ask the FIA to test a second chassis.

        There is already enough more basic stuff that they can work on to get closer to midfield race finishes.

      2. I would be very surprised if this isn’t banned in the coming years. The original EBD was banned because of the expense. This solution is even more expensive to accomplish and raises some serious safety questions. Unless you are a front runner it would be a total waste of resource doing this.

  4. Wind Tunnel? Like a Computational Fluid Dynamic Virtual Wind Tunnel? Now thats innovation… using the first completely CFDVWT produced car!

    1. Unless they’re lying about CFD-only design, that’s probably close to the truth. Wind Tunnel could be a nickname, or a program/simulation name.

      1. Yeah. maybe they call their computer systems “wind tunnel” because it’s much familiar.

      2. Well, it’s not like pretty much everyone in the business knows that they have always been using a wind tunnel, but… everybody knows.

        1. Explain please, Any evidence?

          1. I’m pretty sure he saw his “evidence” laying steaming in the toilet bowl after his morning bowel movements.

  5. A spokesman clairified it only as “presumeably”? Why not Wirth?

    If so he must mean a wind tunnel simulation, but seems a strange statement to make considering how much they make of CFD.

    I just can’t see how things like this can be modeled on a computer no matter how powerful, there are too many variations. OK it can be done but how accurate can it be?

    1. In the long game very. The technology may be a little off yet but sooner or later the cfd approach will be more reliable than wind tunnels. For a start one would be able to capture data about the air flow with ease because it’s all data. When these things get better they will be running the cars around circuits in cfd to get genuine track data. Mark my words in 5 years time it will be the norm.

      1. I think you’re right. Not necessarily about the time frame, but eventually it will be superior to a wind tunnel and will become the norm. I imagine they’ll eventually have their CFD computers and driving simulators all tied together, to be able to gather track data as you said. The drawbacks currently are the complexities of real air flowing over a real object, that so far haven’t been accurately modeled in a virtual environment. As the computers get bigger and the software evolves though, that will change.

  6. That is hilarious. The cat is out of the bag now Wirthy ;-)

    What a gaff…. oh no, I meant CFD simulation. :-)

    It makes you chuckle doesnt it.

  7. Wow, Renault have really put some effort into the new car.
    It makes the Kubica tragedy of not being able to compete in it this year so overwhelming. I hate it.

  8. bet you they have made 1/5th scale models and put under wind tunnels without anyone knowing.

    1. What’s with all the derisive comments towards Virgin?

      They make a car that laps maybe a couple of seconds slower than a Ferrari for a fraction of the cost. Maybe another billion or so dollars in ‘not really cigarette sponsorship money’ will see them up there with the best?

      Best of luck to them.

      1. I’m with you on that by the way. F1 has a place for, and has always had a place for aspirational teams.

        I really like the idea of CFD only, and my comment was meant in jest rather than seriousness.

        The new teams give an easy target. I have to say I think given the timing both Virgin and Lotus did a good job.

        As did HRT in getting through the season, but it strikes me as a rent a drive outfit at present (maybe just the economics of the situation at present)…. 1 pay driver and one talented youngster maybe.

        The day F1 has three mclarens, three ferraris, three Rbs will be the day I stop watching. Sounds more like the old indicar, or current nascar.

        And I say that as a mclaren fan. I want to see the underdogs, and the fact I see a lot of fans wanting it is worrying to me.

        Not all genuinely talented drivers are on young driver programmes. Having more slots on the grid enhances the chance longer term (recession excluding) that they may have a chance.

        1. …and the fact I see a lot of fans wanting [3 car teams] is worrying to me.

          Me too. It’s the little teams that keep the sport honest.

          1. I hate when anybody talks about 3-car teams or that the 3 small teams shouldn’t be in F1.

            If it was for me we’d have 1-car teams, so we’d forget about “team orders” and have the added benefit of (relatively) more small teams.

            I know, I know… Not cost effective and not do-able. But isn’t it fun to think about it?

          2. They are certainly part of the heritage of the sport, and they offered a route into the sport for a lot of drivers (Webber, Alonso, Senna to name but a few)

            But then, some fans are blinkered by a love of only one driver or one team at the expense of all others. Thats not what F1 is about for me.

            but who am I to say they’re wrong.

  9. I hear Virgin are not running KERS like everyone else, their place at the rear of the field is confirmed.

    1. Lotus aren’t either, nor are HRT.

      1. There is speculation that Toro Rosso might not be running KERS either because of the size of their side pods and the inherent difficulty of packaging the system in such a small space. I dont know why they wouldnt just use Ferrari’s full system ala Sauber.

      2. I’d be happy if HRT are running more than 3 wheels, let alone risking KERS.

        It’s harsh, but they are the ones we expect least from, but need the most improvement from.

        1. LOL. I’d be happy if they have a car to begin with. But then again.. I couldn’t care less if HRT weren’t even on the grid.

    2. Don’t be too surprised if KERS is only being used because it keeps you from slipping back too many places off the starting grid.

  10. If this front blown exhaust turns out to be a real dark horse they’re going to kick themselves!

    1. I would imagine that quite a few people have looked at that and thought – S–t!

  11. What do they want in F1 anyway? Just to be the last team so Branson can say ‘I also have an F1 team besides my airline’???

    The new teams offer nothing to F1 besides moving hurdles for the fast cars.

    How much I miss the period when we had Toyota, Honda, BMW which respected the sport immensely by spending billions on their cars compared to these losers.

    1. I couldnt disagree more. Look back through the history of dominant teams in F1, and how many of those were manufacturers?

      Toyota, BMW, Honda > All three of them were good as engine suppliers, but the inevitable politics involved in large organisations in F1 are ridiculous.

      I will never forget hearing about BMW when Kubica was there. He wanted to push on for the title, and they said they had achieved their objectives for the year.

      I doubt you would ever get that from race teams like Williams, Ferrari, Redbull. Can you imagine Frank/Patrick saying “we’ve won enough races this year. Lets not push too hard”

      Toyota had one of the largest budgets in the pitlane, and achieved very little with it. They were tied up in internal politics.

      1. And I dont class Ferrari as a typical manufacturer ;-)

      2. “I will never forget hearing about BMW when Kubica was there. He wanted to push on for the title, and they said they had achieved their objectives for the year.”

        They obviously were only the third fastest car and the only reason Kubica was even in contention at the halfway point was because the real championship contenders had each failed to score points twice.

        Kubica had won ONE race in half a season. They were never really in contention for the championship.

        It’s ridiculous to claim that BMW just left a shot at the title laying. They still kept that shot, it was based on the competition not finishing a third of their races. Oddly enough that didn’t continue …

  12. Virgin also produced a car a couple of thousands of a second off the lotus car, for 60million less

  13. surely the most interesting part of this interview is “We’d heard about that towards the end of last year.”!!
    If they heard about it then didnt everyone else?
    Was that just too late for McLaren,Ferrari et al??

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