A calamitous start to life in Formula One tarnished what appeared to be an otherwise professional campaign but Virgin recovered and the team has promise for the future - so what can they achieve in 2011?
Reliability was a major issue for Virgin at the start of last year and this time they will need to hit the ground running if they are to see a progression in their performance. Indeed, if the hype over at Lotus is anything to go by they will need ambitious development plans in place if they are not to be left behind by their biggest rival from last season.
The car is again designed entirely on CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), with not even a test in the wind tunnel, and some claim this will prevent the team from making the innovative progressions that normally come out of tweaks made during the wind tunnel process, particularly in what appears to be a very innovative period of F1 design.
Technical chief Nick Wirth denies that claim and says the numbers checked out last year, and the numbers for this year suggest the car is faster than it was before the ban on double diffusers - which is a big claim to make, although given the team is starting from a low baseline this is entirely possible.
The most notable design detail is the distinctly low nose, the lowest of any of the current cars, which goes against trends to raise the nose to improve airflow. The front wing is a fairly standard three-plane design with two-element forward wing and narrow simple endplates, while there is a heavy undercut on the sidepod that flows through to a steep drop-off at the rear.
The car uses traditional pushrod suspension, with the damper units on top of the gearbox but with the pushrod angled forward to minimise the blockage on gearbox (in a similar approach to that used by Ferrari).
In contrast to Lotus' decision to outsource their transmission to Red Bull, and indeed HRT's similar approach with Williams, Virgin has gone out on its own again to design their gearbox, and that will have taken valuable resources away from the aerodynamic development. That said, the CFD approach is a much lower cost option for aero work so this may not be as much of a compromise after all.
On the driver side, Lucas de Grassi has departed to make way for Jerome D'Ambrosio, who will race alongside Timo Glock to give the team a blend of experience and youth.
Perhaps the biggest personnel influence, however, will potentially come from former Renault F1 technical chief Pat Symonds, who has joined as a technical consultant. He is banned from a full-time operation role until 2013 following the Singapore Grand Prix crash scandal, but he can still have active support input and his many years of F1 experience on the front line could be just what Virgin needs.
The team's approach to this year is one of composed and planned progression, cautiously targeting Q2 qualification and trying to get some early points on the board as the other teams settle down. That contrasts strongly with Lotus's brash predictions of targeting the upper midfield by the end of the season - and it will be interesting to see how the two teams' relative public predictions match up by the end of the year...
Every day leading up to the start of the F1 season, Will Gray will be breaking down a different team's prospects for 2011.
The schedule is as follows: Mar 14 Virgin; Mar 15 HRT; Mar 16 Lotus; Mar 17 Toro Rosso; Mar 18 Sauber; Mar 19 Force India; Mar 20 Williams; Mar 21 Renault, Mar 22 Mercedes; Mar 23 Ferrari; Mar 24 McLaren; Mar 25 Red Bull.