Downton are a British Formula Virtual team based in Amesbury, England. The team was founded by, and is owned and managed by Bradley Downton.
The team were the first in the series to build their own engines in 2014 and as of 2015 they have struck up a technical partnership and engine deal with DS Mathershaw. In 2013 the team ran under the name "Orange Downton Pagani" but switched simply to Downton FV Team from 2014 onward.
The deal for Downton to enter the Virtual Grand Prix Championship came about after the initial registration process. The team entered under the name Orange Downton Pagani after confirming title sponsorship from Orange Telecommunications and an engine deal with Italian super car manufacturer Pagani. Downton confirmed he would take on the role of team principal while appointed good friend Declan Johnson as technical director.
The team set up base in Amesbury - Downton's home town - in a disused factory and immediately began development on the team's first car, the BD01. Downton also confirmed the team intended to set up a young driver academy to assist young talents on their career path. This included entering teams in the VGPC's feeder series - the IJGPC.
Downton's first car was christened the BD01 and was unveiled on the team owner's birthday on the 17 July 2013. The car featured a striking orange, blue and black livery and featured prominent sponsorship from Orange Telecommunications and Monster Energy. Kip Maxwell and Scott Parsons were unveiled at the launch of the car as the teams drivers, however a test driver wasn't confirmed. At the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix the team confirmed Marcus Thunder - a product of the teams young driver academy - would join the team as test driver.
The car seemed quick straight out of the box and Parsons took it to a debut podium in the first race of the season, the 2013 Australian Grand Prix. That would prove to be their best result however and also just over half of their total points all year. As the season progressed the team struggled to keep up with development and slipped further and further back, eventually finishing tenth in the constructors championship.
The team also ran a total of six different drivers throughout the season. Parsons was involved in a rallying accident in the lead-up to the 2013 United States Grand Prix and he was subsequently replaced by test and reserve driver Thunder. Felix Beyer was then brought in from the defunct BMW Zyla team to replace Maxwell - who had been granted paternity leave - for two races before Parsons returned for Austria and took over from Beyer. Parsons subsequently announced he would withdraw from the remainder of the season after suffering from his injuries during the race and the team brought in Team 23 test driver Jacinto van Slooten after announcing the engine deal for the following season. At the 2013 Chinese Grand Prix, Mathershaw Technology driver Karl Beckenbauer was handed a race ban and Downton and Mathershaw agreed a deal for Thunder to switch teams for the final three races. As a result Maxwell returned as replacement before the team announced that 2014 signing Nathaniel Powers would instead join the team as of the final race in Mexico after clinching the championship in the preceding race in Brazil.
Kip Maxwell and Marcus Thunder remained with team for 2014 but Maxwell was demoted to the role of test driver after the team signed reigning Champion Nathaniel Powers as of the 2013 Mexican Grand Prix. On 25 January 2014 Downton announced that their test driver Maxwell would be shared between themselves and Liverpool Grand Prix while Felix Beyer would move to new team Force Australia, Jacinto van Slooten returned to Team 23 and Scott Parsons took a sabbatical to fully recover from his rallying injuries.
Thunder finished fifth in the opening race while Powers retired following an incident with Romano Agostino and Adrien Simon. Powers recovered in Malaysia to finish sixth, one place ahead of teammate Thunder, scoring the team's first ever double points finish. In Bahrain the team picked up their second podium and best ever result courtesy of Powers, who finished second, while Thunder retired with suspension failure. Powers scored more points with seventh in Britain but Thunder struggled in the race on a strategy the team confirmed wasn't optimum and came home seventeenth. The teams worst qualifying performance of the season to date followed in Canada but the drivers recovered for a double points finish, with Powers in eighth and Thunder tenth.
In the following race in the United States, Powers looked on course for the teams first ever win after some drama amongst the front runners, but was caught out when Karl Beckenbauer slowed suddenly while overtaking the damaged car of Will Hoskins, resulting in Powers running into Beckenbauer and breaking his own front wing, eventually finishing eighth with teammate Thunder in tenth again but taking the fastest lap. The Spanish race was a disaster for the team, taking home no points for the first time in 2014.
At the first ever Portuguese race the team returned to the points and the podium, with Powers third and Thunder eighth. This also marked the teams biggest points haul in one race to date. Powers followed that up with another podium in France finishing second but Thunder retired after partial brake failure and partially missing his braking point for the hairpin on lap one, also eliminating Jean Mattson of Downton's customer team Team 23 and narrowly avoiding his own team mate Powers.
In the following German Grand Prix Powers finished fifth while Thunder retired with an engine failure but in Austria the team secured their highest combined finish, with Powers fifth and Thunder sixth. The team achieved another strong double points finish in Belgium with fifth and seventh - Thunder ahead of his champion team mate - but suffered dismal weekends in the following races in Italy and China, failing to score any points.
The team returned to form in Japan with two cars in the top ten in Qualifying, and went on to secure their biggest points haul in the race, with Thunder third - taking his first ever podium for the team - and Powers right behind in fourth. Brazil was another double points finish with sixth and seventh, and this result secured Downton third in the Constructors Championship. In the final race in Mexico, Thunder finished sixth to secure his top nine place in the Drivers' Championship but Powers endured a difficult weekend, finishing fourteenth.
The team retained both Powers and Thunder for 2015, with Maxwell once more in reserve role duties, although this time shared with Westwood, however they wrote the season off before it had even begun. Pre-season testing seemed to confirm their fears, and they struggled in Australia. An upgraded engine followed in Malaysia and the team found themselves solidly in the top half, yet a disappointing race yielding just one point. In Brazil however the team benefited from strategy and mistakes from others to secure their first ever win in the series with Thunder, while Powers followed him home to secure a 1-2 result. This came just the day after the team announced both Powers and Thunder would remain with the team until at least the end of 2017.
For their first season in the Virtual Grand Prix Championship Downton used engines supplied by Italian Supercar manufacturer Pagani. They soon announced however they would build their own engines from 2014 onwards. Shortly afterwards it was confirmed they would also supply Team 23 with engines for 2014. This deal was set to be continued in 2015 until Team 23 withdrew from the series, however their replacement Ocelot announced their intentions to run Downton engines and a deal was struck.
Downton will also be supplying Liverpool with engines for the first time too in 2015, although they will be tuned by VXR rather than DS Automobiles, who tune Downton's and Ocelot's.
Downton featured title sponsorship from Orange Telecommunications in 2013 and main sponsorship from Monster Energy, but for 2014 the two companies sponsored the team equally as Downton decided to shed itself of a title sponsor. This looked set to continue in 2015, but on 25th January rumours surfaced that Downton and Orange were on the verge of a split. This was confirmed by Downton on 26th March with an announcement that two new sponsors would take the place of Orange coming on 7th April. These were later revealed to be Orange's parent company EE, and insurance group Aviva.
Downton are also sponsored by Adidas, Android, Asus, Atom Publishers, BP, Casio, Firestone, HTC, Oakley, Osiris, Symantec and TNT.
Downton Young Driver Academy
- See also: Downton Young Driver Academy
As soon as the team were set up they announced the introduction of the Downton Young Driver Academy (DYDA). The initial aim was to find a test driver and Marcus Thunder was the successful product of this.
Matteo Zetticci is currently the only member of the academy.
Complete Formula Virtual results
(results in bold indicate pole position; results in italics indicate fastest lap)
|Jacinto van Slooten||15||17||11||10||12||14|
|13||Klaas van Snelheid||5||Ret||1||2||1||2||4||1||2||1||1||3||Ret||6||6||4||1||3|
|2||Klaas van Snelheid||Ret||1||2||11||1||2||5||5||Ret||6||4||8||Ret||7||1||4||3||1|
|2||Klaas van Snelheid|
* Season in progress.
- Downton High Performance Engines, manufacturer of Downton's Formula Virtual engines.