| DS Mathershaw
DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw, the current moniker of the Mathershaw Technology, is an Anglo-French Formula Virtual team. It was founded in 2013 by Robert Mathershaw to enter the championship.
In their first season, the team were an official AMG Customer Sports team running under the Barclays AMG Mathershaw Technology banner. Following modest success, the team secured major sponsorship from Liverpool Football Club to become Liverpool Grand Prix and later Liverpool V-Prix Racing. After five wins in 2014 and only one in 2015, the deal came to an end, and Mathershaw Technology became the DS Automobiles factory team. The 2016 season saw the team win its first titles in both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championships.
The team was formed in 2013 as Mathershaw Technology after being granted one of twelve spots on the grid for the inaugural Virtual Grand Prix Championship. Robert Mathershaw was sole owner, team principal and technical director during the first season.
The team used engines supplied by Mercedes-AMG, while the team itself was composed of engineers that had been linked with Mathershaw during his career previously, and was run from a newly built factory in Ellesmere Port.
Mathershaw's car for 2013, the RJM-001, was a relatively conventional design, while the team signed two relatively experienced drivers. Frenchman Adrien Simon led the team, having been chosen for his reputation for developing cars, while Karl Beckenbauer was given the second seat, which was considered to be a risk at the time due to his erratic style. The test and reserve role was given to Ivan Lesic, though he never drove the car during a race weekend.
The team experienced modest success in their first season, finishing in a comfortable third position with 247 points, and achieving their first victory at the Canadian Grand Prix with Adrien Simon.
The final part of the season was marred by Karl Beckenbauer being given a one race ban after being involved in an incident at the Chinese Grand Prix in which he was judged to have been at serious fault. He was replaced by Downton driver Marcus Thunder for the final three races of the season, who performed extremely well and managed to take a podium despite the team falling back from its competitors in the latter part of the year. Simon ended the year fifth in the championship, with the banned Beckenbauer ninth.
During the 2013 season, it was announced that Liverpool Football Club would become title sponsors from the 2014 season onwards. The constructor name was changed to Liverpool as well to reflect this, and the Mercedes engine deal was terminated. Adrien Simon was retained alongside Karl Beckenbauer, while behind the name change, the team structure remained exactly the same. As a result of the Liverpool partnership, Vauxhall were signed as engine supplier and technical partner. The team also made improvements to the Ellesmere Port factory, including engine development facilities.
In pre-season testing, the new RJM-002 looked to perform well, consistently setting times towards the front of the field.
The 2014 season brought greater success than the previous year, with 5 wins signaling the progress the team made. Three of the wins came in the first five races, suggesting the team were going to be challenging for the title. Despite this, they once again fell back slightly during the latter stages due to a lack of development, and Liverpool finished a distant second with 379 points, some 103 behind the title winning Franklin team. The team's drivers were closely matched throughout, with Beckenbauer taking third in the drivers championship with team-mate Simon in fourth, only seven points back.
After the French Grand Prix, the team announced changes in management, with French businessman and former Le Mans winner Arthur Lapierre becoming Team Principal, allowing Mathershaw to focus solely on the Technical Director role to avoid slipping back as the team did in the latter stages of 2013.
After Lapierre's appointment, the team scored two further victories with Adrien Simon, and the team cemented a comfortable second place in the World Constructors' Championship.
The 2015 season saw further change for the team. Both drivers were retained for the season, though it was announced that the Liverpool sponsorship would conclude at the end of the season, meaning the team entered the season with uncertainty beyond the end of the year. Due to this, tensions arose between the team and engine supplier Vauxhall, which led to the team using Downton units tuned by the manufacturer. Despite this uncertainty, pre-season results were again relatively good.
Once again the team started as the second fastest behind the Franklin team, and the team took victory in South Africa with Karl Beckenbauer. The team led the constructors championship after the seventh round of the season, but tensions behind the scenes were growing. The Vauxhall-tuned Downton units were found to be less powerful than the factory counterparts, and the team insisted on a widespread enquiry. By this time, the DS Automobiles factory deal had been announced, and following the French Grand Prix the Vauxhall partnership was immediately terminated in favour of factory Downton-DS units. The team had fallen back in development terms, and decided to turn their full attention to 2016. DS Automobiles and Downton engineers were rumoured to be developing an early specification 2016 power unit, and the Liverpool team used the development-spec units from Britain onwards.
The fallout of the termination Vauxhall deal also saw the departure of Karl Beckenbauer from the team, whose contract was linked to the engine supply. He was replaced by DS-Downton factory driver Kip Maxwell for the remainder of the season, who held his own against his more experienced and lauded team-mate in Adrien Simon. However, a combination of the uncertainty at the beginning of the season and the lack of development during the season meant the team once again fell back into the midfield and failed to win another race, making 2015 the team's worst season to date, finishing in third behind Franklin and Rossi.
DS Automobiles factory team
Early in the 2015 season, it was announced that Mathershaw Technology would become the factory team for DS Automobiles in Formula Virtual. The manufacturer committed to a multi-season contract, providing financial and technical support, while entering into a technical partnership with Downton High Performance Engines. While the power units would be built in Amesbury by Downton, DS Automobiles were heavily involved in the development of the power units used by all Downton teams, effectively doubling the number of works cars on the grid. The team set up a brand new facility at the Paul Ricard circuit, with manufacturer of the cars in one factory, and the DS Automobiles Powertrain development facility next door, where engine development would take place alongside Downton engineers, while the team would build it's own gearbox and drivetrain. The structure of the technical team was also extensively changed, with Robert Mathershaw overseeing a far larger team in his role as technical director, while Arthur Lapierre took on a role of director in DS Performance alongside his duty as Team Principal of the team.
For 2016, the team has retained Adrien Simon as first driver, while Kip Maxwell has returned to his role as official DS Automobiles factory driver, acting as test driver for the team alongside other duties. Replacing Karl Beckenbauer is Monegasque Olen Inman, the first product of the DS Automobiles Young Driver Academy to race in Formula Virtual.
From the early point of the season, the team were clearly fastest, though the early advantage went to the Meteor team with victory in the first two races. However, the next three races were all won by Simon, starting a run of 6 wins in 7 races for DS, including Inman's first victory in the championship at the team's second home race at Silverstone. By this point, the team's margin in the constructors championship was clear, with Simon and Inman also in firm contention for the driver's title. Olen Inman took his second win in Assen as his team-mate suffered rear wing damage that eventually saw him disqualified, while Inman himself hit trouble in Belgium. The Italian V-Prix was the team's worst performance of the season, only managing 7th and 10th at a track which didn't suit the DS chassis.
The constructor's championship was sealed by Mexico, meaning the team turned their full attention to development for 2017. Combined with the fact other teams continued developing and that a number of races ran in changeable conditions, the United States, Mexican and Portuguese rounds proved challenging for both drivers.
Going into the final round, Inman led Simon by 5 points, and with weather conditions fine, the true pace of the DS was realised: despite a number of incidents for both drivers, Simon won the race and therefore the championship by a two point margin.
Despite his exceptional first season and a contract being signed early in the season, it was announced after the final race that Inman wouldn't be retained for 2017, instead moving to the FUN team.
For 2017, champion Simon will be retained, with the second driver role taken by Allar Kangur following the departure of Olen Inman, while Thierry Xylander will take the test and reserve driver position. The constructor name will officially change to DS Mathershaw, with funding from the French manufacturer slightly reduced after such large investment in the 2016 season. The technical partnership with Downton will continue, with the RJM-005 using the Downton DS-2017 power unit.
DS Automobiles Lapierre Junior Team
The DS Automobiles Lapierre Junior Team was created as the Liverpool Grand Prix Junior Team and is run in conjunction with team principal Arthur Lapierre's eponymous Lapierre Competition team, and so far has had a total of 6 members. Olen Inman is the first driver to graduate from the Academy to Formula Virtual.
|Jamie Gerrard||2013-15||2nd FV2 2013, 3rd Macau V-Prix 2014|
|Didier Arnaud||2014-15||13th FV2 2014, 8th VWRS 2015|
|Olen Inman||2015-16||1st VWRS 2014, 2nd FV2 2015, 2nd FV 2016|
|Allar Kangur||2015-Present||3rd FV2 2015, 1st VWRS 2016|
|Thierry Xylander||2016-Present||5th FV2 2016|
|Alexander McLaughlin||2016-Present||2nd FV2 Winter Series 2015-16, 7th VWRS 2016|
Complete Formula Virtual results
(results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)