Richard Branson's F1 Virgin Racing Team Launches VR01

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst IFebruary 3, 2010

Formula One team Virgin Racing has launched its maiden vehicle, the VR01, in preparation for the 2010 F1 season.

First revealed on the team's Web site, the team owned by media mogul Richard Branson opted for an "all-digital" launch, in order to reflect the fact that designer Nick Wirth did not use a wind tunnel at all in the car's design, opting instead to utilize computational fluid dynamics.

The team will be the first of F1's new entrants to join the established teams in winter testing when they make the second winter test at the Jerez circuit in Spain. In preparation for that, drivers Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi will also run laps at Silverstone on Thursday and Friday of this week.

The red and black VR01-Cosworth is, in step with the image Branson's company likes to project, one of the best-looking cars on the grid. Glock will race the No. 24, while di Grassi will campaign the No. 25.

Besides relying on an online launch, a concept the Force India team will also utilize on Feb. 9, the team has developed a unique program with which to engage the fans by allowing them to name the car. The winner will receive signed replica team clothing, and the name they have chosen will be emblazoned on the car for the duration of the season. Already fans have flooded Twitter with suggestions.

All of this puts Virgin Racing a few steps ahead of the other three new teams in the sport for 2010. Lotus F1 will not launch until Feb. 12, US F1 has not set a date besides "early February," and the Campos Meta team, facing delays, may scrap its launch date of Feb. 17 and release its car before the season-opening Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix.

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