Virgin and McLaren agree technical partnership

2011 F1 season

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Jerome d'Ambrosio, Virgin, Montreal, 2011

Virgin has agreed a new technical partnership with McLaren.

The deal will see some McLaren staff work on the development of Virgin’s cars.

It will also allow Virgin to use McLaren’s wind tunnel, testing rigs, simulator, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and computer aided manufacturing (CAE) systems.

It marks a move away from Virgin’s all-CFD design approach pursued under previous technical director Nick Wirth, who left the team last month.

McLaren already has a technical partnership with Force India. However this deal will not see Virgin use the same engine and gearbox as McLaren – they will remain customers of Cosworth.

Virgin’s chief executive officer Andy Webb said: “Our technical partnership with McLaren is very exciting indeed. McLaren is one of the most prestigious and successful marques in Grand Prix racing history, with an enviable record of success over many years.

“We can benefit enormously from McLaren’s far-reaching techniques and capabilities and I have no doubt that this partnership will see us take the technical steps necessary to make a significant leap forwards.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “These properties are state-of-the-art, and we confidently therefore expect Marussia Virgin Racing to derive significant benefits from them.”

Virgin also announced it has purchased its former technical partner Wirth Racing Technologies, based at Banbury in Oxfordshire. Webb indicated the team would consolidate its multiple bases in the near future:

“Our acquisition of the WRT Formula One business ensures continuity of technical infrastructure for the period ahead, which means that the transition to working with our new technical partner can begin immediately and is not frustrated by logistical considerations.

“Our three-centre operation has served us well in our formative years but our ambitions for the future will rely on the full might of the team coming together under one roof.”

He added: “With Pat Symonds’ continued involvement in the technical programme, we are confident that we have made all the right moves towards a successful future for Marussia Virgin Racing and we now head into one of the most important events for our team, the British Grand Prix, with renewed confidence and a great deal of excitement about the future.”

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Keith Collantine
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39 comments on “Virgin and McLaren agree technical partnership”

  1. If there’s one team that is good at offering third-part support to others, it’s McLaren.

    1. Ferrari doesn’t do that right? or did they have one before?

  2. Well after all the promises made in 2009 about technical help, it’s good to see the teams are announcing partnerships this year, especially one as substantial as this.

  3. Does this effectively get McLaren a B-team?

    1. Nope. It’s modelled on the existing relationship with Force India, and Force India is not a McLaren B-team.

      1. Ferrari and Sauber had a technical partnership in the early 2000s.

      2. Read the Virgin website.Its a totally different deal to Force India Mclaren set up.
        The Force India deal is for engines and drivetrains.
        This deal includes wind tunnel, simulator and fitness programmes.

      3. Its a totally different deal to the Force India McLaren set up.
        That is for engines and drivetrains.
        This is for wind tunnel, simulator and driver fitness programmes amongst other things.
        A far more comprehensive collaboration.

      4. Because, IMO, they’re a Mercedes B-team. McLaren no longer support FIF1 on the same level that they used to – or that they will now provide to Virgin.

      5. Does that partnership still work like it did? I get the impression FI is rather turning into a Mercedes GP affliated team, while McLaren is now getting closer with Marussia Virgin.

  4. All the new teams are obtaining partnerships from strong teams. This can only help them remain in F1 and improve their performances.

  5. Am I the only one who thinks it’s a little odd that Virgin “got rid” of Nick Wirth as their technical director. and have now purchased his business? any more news on that? is he still going to be involved?

    1. No, he’s not going to be involved. Virgin have simply bought Wirth Research’s facilities. Which isn’t althogether surprising, since the team paid for them.

      1. Yeah, these were significantly upgraded just for the F1 effort. I guess now Marussia is getting in and wants a solid facility for both the F1 team and possibly for its road car development.

        That might be an interesting angle as well, with Marussia learning a bit of McLaren for their future models.

  6. Lets hope they can get into the mid field after a few races.

    1. They won’t. Virgin won’t be threatening the midfield until 2012 at the earliest.

      1. That is a very strict interpretation of the word “few” PM

  7. Great news. Two Britain-based teams helping each other (McLaren originally founded by Bruce, from New Zealand).

    Virgin for its development, McLaren for publicity and reputation.

    This deal is similar to Mclaren – Force India and Red Bull – Team Lotus; hope more of these occur (maybe even Red Bull – Toro Rosso but to a lesser degree than before).

    1. Virgin for its development, McLaren for publicity and reputation.

      I suspect there’s a bit of money changing hands too.

  8. I applaud anything that helps those backmarkers close the gap. An exciting Q1 would be nice to have for a change. So would be 11 racing teams, rather than only 8 + 3 grid fillers.

    1. Red Bull finished seventh in their first two years, 2005 and 2006. Now, they’re World Champions. They’ve demonstrated that it is possible to climb the food chain, even if they only purchased an existing team instead of starting from scratch.

      1. Gnarly Racing (@)
        4th July 2011, 21:47

        I’m sure it’s possible to do it without hiring Adrian Newey, but that certainly helped!

        1. Starting from scratch, even with A.Newey it would be a big ask.

  9. Vassal teams and the dukes of tech entrenched at the front of the grid. Typical of the short termist approach that unwinds Brit tech capability that the vassal fans of McLaren would support.

    Who built the Merc engine? The big guy with the name on it or the little guy who had to make rent himself?

    1. @ Lord Hee Haw

      Well, I guess it was the same guy that designed a few Cosworths, Chevrolet Indy engines and the odd Merc to name but a few, small no longer – owned by Merc now. Forza Mario!

  10. Maybe not all the mclaren teams will get together and form a box arnd the rbrs while the real mclarens pass. :D

  11. Well, they’ve got a few years before the Russian Grand Prix, so they have plenty of time to gradually develop a winning car.

  12. It is all getting a bit incestuous in f1. Then again it stands to reason that the only properly independent team was also one of the slowest. I think this also leaves Williams on a very exposed position in terms if FOTA

  13. whats in it for mclaren? if they are supplying the know how and the facilities, or is it just a fee for service?

    1. Money.. plus Virgin will owe them a couple of favours from time to time.

    2. Carbon fibre moulding involves set-up costs, these can be defrayed by supplying parts to other teams, the other teams that buy “standard” parts can concentrate on areas where a difference might actually make a difference, eg.aerodynamics.

    3. With the resource restriction agreement, quite a bit of those facilities are far from used 100%, so why not sell some of their capacity on.
      And train your engineers at the same time.

      Possibly there might be a link to selling some licenced know how as well, both for F1 and I can imagine Marussia beeing keen on a bit of McLaren tech for their future models.

      Another thought is Virgin do their own gearbox, so they might be interesting in that aspect as well.
      And who knows, maybe McLaren will once go with their own engine, built by Cossy!

  14. So McLaren now have a technical linkup with both Force India and Virgin, Red Bull supply the back end for Team Lotus and Williams help out HRT.

    1. That’s right, and if a team can design and build a superior engine they can supply other teams to get some of that development money back.

    2. Hrt have a windtunnel deal with merc but that’s not a tech deal. It’s just merc auctioning off some windtunnel time for their 2nd unused tunnel, I don’t think hrt have a technical link. At least i havn’t heard about anything with williams.

  15. So, might this mean that Glock will be a tad bit closer to a McLaren drive, just in case Lewis or Jenson decides to go for one of the reds (Ferrari or Red Bull)?

  16. Seems like McLaren should be focusing their efforts on themselves…

  17. PepsiPerfect
    5th July 2011, 13:32

    I can NOT believe people are unable to see how this will help Mclaren. Mclaren require a second team, away from the MP4. To have inplace when the Mercedes deal expires and Ron has his own engine. Ron would not wish to damage the MP4 reputation. So he needs a feeder team to develop and test the engine before he puts it in the MP4. Force India are also a pertner to develop the F1 race engine without damaging the many years of hard work that has gone into the MP4
    Good luck Ron

  18. I think it is a good idea – best of luck!
    What has to change for sure is the Virgin car livery : as it is, it looks awful: distribution of colors, logo, black wheels, everything.
    – The wheels could be black in the center with chrome on the rounded part, like vintage 1970s racers

    – Maybe try out very geometric patterns of colors all over the car, op-art style, as BMW used to do for many of its race cars in the 1970s : they even had artists like Calder make special designs for their cars.

    – Their logo is very poorly designed from the beginning and cheapens the status of the outfit. Start from scratch there

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