Off Season: The Little Guys

Ah the little guys, small fry, minnows…call them what you will, but last years rookies are sticking around for 2011. They started life as Virgin Racing, Lotus Racing and Hispania Racing Team, this year they return as Marussia Virgin Racing, Team Lotus (? – at the moment) and Hispania Racing Team (hopefully).

They signed up to Formula One with the impression that they could set up and race for €30 million, suggested by Max Mosley in 2008. Yeah right! This lead to a few teething issues during the run up to the Bahrain GP in 2010, Virgin’s fuel tank was too small and Hispania’s testing began at the first GP of the year. Far from inspired start they sought, they managed to get to the end of the year with almost everything intact, although some would argue about that. Yes I’m looking at you Bernie…

Without dwelling on the failures of 2010, we can look forward to 2011 and what the newer teams have on the table.


Photo credit: Virgin Racing

Last year the team became the first to design a car without going near a wind tunnel, their aerodynamics were guided by Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). All teams have their wind tunnel time limited (expensive to build and run, the limit is there to enable smaller teams the chance to compete) , so most are making use of CFD.

The advantage that Virgin will gain for the upcoming season is that they will have be able to utilise the highest capacity of CFD dictated by the F1 Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA). And as it stands, it looks like the most compared to the rest of the field.

By pioneering this approach, Virgin have lead the way for smaller teams to get involved in the sport. The British outfit is working with Wirth Research who says that using CFD will enable teams to “make more changes, more quickly, at less cost than any other team” to its cars.

And that is exactly what this sport needs to get others involved. Ferrari may well warn that a ‘pauperistic’ approach would damage F1, but surely a sport where only a few compete would be far worse? Diversity, not division.


Photo credit: Getty Images

The best performing rookie team also ensured the return of the Lotus name to where is belongs. Despite a late entry (due to BMW pulling out) and subsequent late car development, they made it to Bahrain and both drivers were classed as finishers (although Trulli retired on the last lap with hydraulic problems).

However this wasn’t the story of the year, their success was rather clouded by the tug-of-war over the Lotus name. Jarno Trulli discussed the spat in an interview with Gazzetta Sportiva, when asked who he thought the real Lotus was he replied with the damning statement, “We don’t know, it’s embarrassing, surreal.”

The experienced driver waded into the argument with both feet and made it clear to his team that he didn’t want a repeat of 2010. “One year I can suffer, another one no,” plagued with reliability issues, it’s understandable he wants to impress future teams when there are heavily backed drivers coming through. Something else Trulli is unhappy with, “Now the budgets of many teams are determined by the sponsorships brought in by drivers.”


Photo credit:

As I reported earlier in the week, Hispania has left FOTA (see: FOTA Finish) which brought with it a wave of questions for the Spanish team. Now you can read the news that HRT are suing former driver Karun Chandhok for breaching his contract in two ways. Either you can looking at it as a team doing the right thing…or a team trying to gather a little extra funding.

It’s been reported that Chandhok’s sponsors skipped out on €6m (apparently only paying €2m out of a promised €8m), and Colin Kolles has attributed this to their poor performance. The Indian driver was dropped from the team before the German GP, and at the time there wasn’t much of an explanation given. A shame considering he gave the team the best results out of the 4 drivers they used.

So what is the future of the team? At the moment it seems unsure, judging by the volume of rumours flying about it’ll be a surprise to see them in Brazil. It’ll also be a surprise if thy manage to keep both of their drivers in their seats for the full season.

Late rookies!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Archives

%d bloggers like this: