F1 Birthdays: 26/3/2011

Someone a little older now: Nick Wirth, Virgin’s technical director, turns 45 today. Nick’s speciality is Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is basically using computers to check aerodynamics. All the teams use some CFD, but most do it in conjunction with the wind tunnels. Virgin remain dedicated to developing a good F1 car that does not use wind tunnels at all. This is a lot better on the budget, though there are reasonable concerns that the car might not be able to compete with the others.
His F1 career began with March in 1988, before CFD was anything more than a vague idea: computers weren’t good enough back then. He worked on the March aerodynamics and active suspension. In 1989 he joined up with Max Mosley to create Simtek Research, which briefly ran Simtek GP from 1994-5, but then went bankrupt.
After a time at Benetton, he left F1 for a while and became more involved in computers and CFD in particular, founding Wirth Design in 2003. He teamed up with Manor Motorsport’s John Booth to create what would become the Virgin Racing car; the VR-01 was the first F1 car to be created entirely using CFD, and the MVR-02 – its successor – is the second.


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